Tony Kushner and Brandeis University's Award


Tony Kushner and Brandeis University's Award


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Shame on Brandeis University

By Fern Sidman

It has been announced that Brandies University in Waltham, Mass will bestow an honorary doctorate degree to anti-Israel playwright, Tony Kushner at its 55th commencement ceremony on May 21st 2006.

According to the Brandeis University web site, "Tony Kushner, one of the most highly acclaimed playwrights of his generation, is being honored for his many literary accomplishments in drama. His early 1990s epic "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes" was groundbreaking for its provocative, witty portrayal of politics, sex and religion in the United States at the end of the second millennium. It earned him the Pulitzer Prize for drama, two Tony Awards and two Drama Desk Awards, among many other honors. More recently, he wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's "Munich," which earned five Academy Award nominations this year, including for best picture and best adapted screenplay. Kushner has also written "Caroline, or Change," "Homebody/Kabul" and "Hydrotaphia," as well as other plays and adaptations. Additionally, Kushner has written a short play, "But the Giraffe, a Curtain Raiser to Hans Krasa's 'Brundibar,'" as part of his collaboration on "Brundibar" with Maurice Sendak that opens in New Victory Theater in New York April 28th."

According to a press release issued by the Zionist Organization of America in New York, Kushner's long record of anti-Israel sentiment is clear. "Kushner has also made numerous egregious statements viciously condemning Israel and decrying its very existence. He called Israel's founding "a mistake," saying "it would have been better if Israel never happened" He also condemned Israel for "ethnic cleansing" and behaving abominably and denounced, 'the shame of American Jews for failing to denounce Israel." He called American Jews who support Israel "repulsive," and Israel a "disgrace."

Kushner also "deplored the brutal and illegal tactics of the IDF" and "the deliberate destruction of Palestinian culture and a systematic attempt to destroy the identity of the Palestinian people."  He is also on the board of an organization that opposes the security fence, a unified Jerusalem, or military aid to Israel, recommends Norman Finkelstein's notorious anti-Israel, anti-Jewish books.

Tony Kushner's recent screenplay of the movie Munich was widely condemned by numerous critics as being grossly inaccurate in ways that were hostile to Israel and inappropriately sympathetic to Palestinian terrorists. The critics include the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens: Harvard's Alan Dershowitz; Columbia Professor and author Samuel Friedman (Jerusalem Post): the New Republic's Leon Wieseltier: movie critic and social analyst Michael Medved: former U.S. Holocaust Museum Director Dr. Walter Reich (Washington Post): the New York Times' Edward Rothstein: Commentary's Gabe Schoenfeld; Charles Krauthaumer: Variety Magazine and MTV's Kurt Yoder The anti-media bias organization CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), for example, stated that in Munich, "Kushner repeatedly blamed Israel for supposed 'ethnic cleaning' and 'dispossession' of Palestinian's casting the alleged action of denying Palestinians a homeland as the root fo the Arab-Israeli conflict, while disregarding the reality of the Arab world's rejection of a non-Arab, non-Muslim Jewish homeland in its midst and Israel's repeated peace overtures." Only this week on the Charlie Rose Show, Ephraim Halevy, former Director of Mossad, the Israeli secret service, said that Tony Kushner's screenplay of the movie Munich "had no relation to the truth or the facts."

It has also been reported that  "Kushner sits on the Board of Advisors of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which advocates divestment and boycott campaigns against Israel. His name appears on JVP letterhead, including on a letter saluting]" the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) for its move toward divesting from companies that do business with Israel. The letter posted on the JVP Web site not only applauds selective divestment focused on particular companies as proposed by the Presbyterians but says "we absolutely reject the accusation that general divestment or boycott campaigns are inherently anti-Semitic."  It should be noted that often news stories referring to JVP's involvement in anti-Israel activity makes special mention of Tony Kushner as a member of the Board of Advisors.

Kushner, an ardent anti-Zionist, once said that "the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, and political calamity."

The interesting thing, though, is Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz's response to the controversy:

    Brandeis bestows honorary degrees as a means of acknowledging the outstanding accomplishments or contributions of individual men and women in any of a number of fields of human endeavor. Just as Brandeis does not inquire into the political opinions and beliefs of faculty or staff before appointing them, or students before offering admission, so too the University does not select honorary degree recipients on the basis of their political beliefs or opinions.

Over the years, Brandeis has honored hundreds of men and women of distinction whose personal views, I am sure, span the full spectrum of political discourse, and the University applies no litmus test requiring honorary degree recipients to hold particular views on Israel or topics of current political debate.

Mr. Kushner is not being honored because he is a Jew, and he is not being honored for his political opinions. Brandeis is honoring him for his extraordinary achievements as one of this generation's foremost playwrights, whose work is recognized in the arts and also addresses Brandeis's commitment to social justice.

It is clear that the decision to grant an honorary degree to Tony Kushner by America's  "only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university," which is named after the great American Zionist and Jurist, Justice Louis D. Brandeis is indeed a reprehensible and appalling one. Brandeis University has been an infamous bastion of Jewish liberalism and self hate since its inception.

The decision to publicly recognize and honor an anti-semite does not further the "lofty" goal of social justice as those on the Brandeis board of directors would have us believe. This egregious decision can only assist in bolstering and encouraging the burgeoning anti-Israel movement that is sweeping college campuses all across the USA. 

Perhaps Jewish donors to Brandeis will re-think their decision to provide financial support to this Jewish "self-hating" institution of higher learning.  

As we know, there is no difference between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism. While it is politically correct and palatable for haters of Jews to claim they are "anti-Zionist" but not "anti-semitic, we know that this is nothing more than a simplistic semantical argument. How easy it is for Jew haters to cloak their venom and vitriol towards Jews under the "innocuous" label of "anti-Zionism", yet we who know the truth see it very clearly.

While Iranian President Ahmadnajed calls Israel "a Nazi regime", we all know that he is calling all Jews "Nazis" and the most horrifying aspect to this is that the world remains silent. His vituperative is embraced by many willing "progressive" Jews who provide support and succor to his demonic views by echoing their own version of anti-Israel lies and propaganda.

We can no longer remain in denial. Jew hatred, on a global level is at an all time high and increasing with every passing moment. An apocalyptic catastrophe for Jews is not outside the realm of possibility. It is up to every Jew who possesses even a modicum of self pride to speak out against this outrage and to vocalize their indignation at the administration of Brandeis University and to all self hating Jews who aide and abet the Jew haters of the world.

Could it be that our destruction and demise will lay within ourselves?

Let us beseech the G-d of Israel for mercy and compassion at this critical juncture of Jewish history. Let us gird our loins and prepare to defend our faith. Let us gain the resolve and strength to walk in the ways of Hasher and to follow His commandments. For in the end, we must not fear the Jew hater, whether he is Jewish or not. 


from the June 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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