Tony Kushner: Jewish defamer of Israel, and latest Guardian Cause Celebre

Meet American Playwright Tony Kushner, the American Jewish far-left’s latest victim.

How do I know he’s a victim. Because Sarah Wildman, writing in CiF (The malaise behind CUNY’s affront to Tony Kushner, May 6), told me so.

How does she know he’s a victim?

Because City University of New York’s board of trustees voted not to proceed with the award of an honorary degree to Kushner.

What are Kushner’s crimes, according to Wildman?

“He is not is an Israel-basher [but merely] questions Israeli policy [and is] engaged in a thoughtful, nuanced, painful conversation with his colleagues, his family, his friends about the nature of democracy, the future of Zionism, and the context in which the state of Israel might finally make peace with the Palestinians.”

Not an Israel basher, she says.  Ok, let’s test that argument, and look at some of the “thoughtful, nuanced” remarks about Israel.

Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing:

[Israel was] founded in a program that, if you really want to be blunt about it, was ethnic cleansing, and that today is behaving abominably towards the Palestinian people.
Yale Israel Review (winter 2005)

It would be better if Israel didn’t exist:

I can unambivalently say that I think that it’s a terrible historical problem that modern Israel came into existence.”

“I’ve never been a Zionist. I have a problem with the idea of a Jewish state. It would have been better if it never happened.”
The New York Sun reporting Kushner comments made at a conference in NY(10/14/02)

“I think [Israel’s creation] was a mistake.”
Ha’aretz (4/7/04)

“Zionism aimed as the establishment of a national identity is predicated on a reading of Jewish history and an interpretation of the meaning of Jewish history I don’t share. Insofar as Zionism is an idea that the solution to the suffering of the Jewish people was the establishment of a Jewish nation, I think it is not the right answer.”
Ha’aretz (4/7/04)

“I am not a Zionist, in case you haven’t noticed.” Kushner cited “the shame of American Jews” for failing to denounce Israel.
Chicago Tribune (4/10/02)

Israel engages in barbarism and its very existence causes great peril for the entire world:

“The existence of the state of Israel, because of the terrible way that the Palestinian people have been treated, is now in great peril and the world is in peril as a consequence of it. And we have now the spectacle of Jewish people all over the world, who in the past century had an absolutely magnificent tradition of rejecting barbarism and right-wing murderous politics, rallying behind Ariel Sharon who 10 years ago would never have been acceptable anywhere.
—In These Times interview (3/4/02)”

On Israel’s anti-terrorism security fence:

” The Israeli-built security wall should come down, the homeland for the Palestinians should be built up, with a strictly enforced peace, not enforced by the Israel Defense Forces, but by the United Nations.”
Baltimore Jewish Times (6/4/04)

On Operation Defensive Shield, and Israel’s other defensive actions in 2002 in response to an unprecedented wave of terrorism.

 “…the savagery of Operation Defensive Shield.”

“I deplore the brutal and illegal tactics of the Israeli Defence Forces in the occupied territories. I deplore the occupation, the forced evacuations, the settlements, the refugee camps, the whole shameful history of the dreadful suffering of the Palestinian people; Jews, of all people, with our history of suffering, should refuse to treat our fellow human beings like that.”
LondonTimes (5/7/02)

Implication that Israel is engaged in a form of cultural genocide against the Palestinians.

“Playwright Tony Kushner said Israel is involved in ‘a deliberate destruction of Palestinian culture and a systematic attempt to destroy the identity of the Palestinian people.’”
New York Sun (10/4/02)

On suicide bombing as a form of resistance. Additional charge that IDF soldiers open fire on Palestinian children who merely throw stones.

One hardly justifies suicide bombings by pointing out that there’s also no “equivalence” between a dispossessed people resisting a thirty-six-year-old occupation and a massive military machine enforcing that repressive occupation, nor by noting that IDF attacks on civilians are themselves sometimes far less than careful or innocent. (Take the official policy of house demolitions, for example. Or Chris Hedges’s report in Harper’s magazine that he observed soldiers taunt Palestinian boys into throwing stones and then open fire.)

On malevolent influence of the Israel lobby.

“I really believe that the Israel lobby has pulled American Jews into bed with some really awful people is undeniably the case.”

Israel’s biggest supporters are among the most repulsive Jews.

“The biggest supporters of Israel are the most repulsive members of the Jewish community and Israel itself has got this disgraceful record.”

Wilder’s assertion that Kushner is not an “Israel basher” is beyond absurd.  He is viscerally hostile not only to Israeli policy, but remarkably gullible to the most odious defamations of the Jewish state.  He is not merely opposed to Israeli policy but, rather, to her very existence.

Wilder finishes by characterizing the decision not to award Kushner an honorary degree as “McCarthyite” and “shuting down conversation”, demonstrating that, as with many on the far left whose views are subjected to critical scrutiny, she has a truly expansive understanding of the word “McCarthyite”, suggesting a political orientation with the belief that employing the most reckless and hateful invectives against Israel – words which have the very real-world consequences of undermining the Jewish state’s very right to live – should not result in even the most minor negative social consequences.

Tony Kushner hates Israel, and is evidently repulsed by its citizens and the Jews who passionately support her.

He certainly has the right to hold such views, but those who rightfully see such ideas as hideous and racist are under no moral obligation to bestow him an honor.

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