Guardian’s deploys Tony Kushner to vilify Israel – ‘as-a-Jew’

A Guardian article by Catherine Shoard (“‘Unimpeachable, irrefutable’: US playwright Tony Kushner praises Jonathan Glazer’s Oscars speech”, March 21) is another illustration of the outlet’s preference for ‘As-A-Jews‘, those who cite their ethnic identity on order to demonise Israel and slander their own people.

“AsAJews get their name”, wrote Eli Lake in a recent piece in Commentary, “because they are addicted to that very phrase. We’ve heard it for years. As a JewI don’t think AIPAC should dominate American foreign policyAs a Jew, I stand against the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.”.

Shoard focuses on public reaction to a speech at the Oscars by director Jonathan Glazer, who’s Jewish, which he gave after receiving the award for best foreign language film, The Zone of Interest.  He said he hoped his movie, which depicts the domestic lives of Rudolph and Hedwig Höss just outside of Auschwitz, where he was camp commandant, “shows where dehumanisation leads, at its worst. It shaped all of our past and present.”

Glazer’s acceptance speech continued:

Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation, which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza, all the victims of this dehumanisation – how do we resist?”

Glazer speech – denounced by over 1,000 Hollywood actors, producers, writers and directors – cynically used his Holocaust film to demonise the Jewish state, rather than Hamas, the group whose barbarous antisemitic rampage on Oct. 7 was clearly most redolent of the evil perpetrated by the Nazis.  In complaining that his “Jewishness and the Holocaust” have been “hijacked by an [Israeli] occupation which has led to conflict”, he not only erased Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal, but seemed to suggest that the (non-existent) ‘occupation’ of Gaza triggered the Oct. 7 massacre. It also elided the Palestinian terror and antisemitism at the root cause of the conflict.

While the Guardian article does mention the Hollywood letter criticizing Glazer, it mainly focuses on renowned Jewish playwright Tony Kushner. and comments he made about the Glazer speech in a Haaretz podcast interview:

Asked if he identified with the speech, Kushner said: “Of course. I mean, who doesn’t? What he’s saying is so simple. He’s saying: Jewishness, Jewish identity, Jewish history, the history of the Holocaust, the history of Jewish suffering must not be used in a campaign of – as an excuse for a project of dehumanising or slaughtering other people.”

Kushner continued: “This is a misappropriation of what it means to be a Jew, what the Holocaust meant, and [Glazer] rejects that. Who doesn’t agree with that? What kind of person thinks that what’s going on now in Gaza is acceptable?”

Kushner, who is Jewish, told the Guardian he was proud that The Fabelmans – which is based on Spielberg’s early life – sought to call out antisemitism in the US. “It’s always a great thing to say antisemitism is abhorrent,” he said, “[It] has a history of ignominy second to none, and if you play footsie with it, if you tolerate its existence, you’re going to be led into some terrible place, because fascism and authoritarianism are unbelievably dull movements every time they reorganise and recrudesce, and they will follow the same tropes over and over again.

“They don’t have a huge imaginative armamentarium, and antisemitism is always right there and it’s been there for centuries, so if anybody starts to sound like an antisemite, they’re done, repudiate them, it’s over, do not make common cause with them.”

So, Kushner – like Glazer – chose the classic ‘As-A-Jew’ road, sympathising with Jews murdered 80 years ago, while ignoring the Jewish victims of a modern-day pogrom by a genocidal terror group. Kushner denounces antisemitism in the abstract, but not the anti-Jewish violence meted out to 1,200 Jewish men, women, and children – bestial behavior which included murder, rape, sexual mutilation, necrophilia and torture.

The Guardian then casts Kushner as a victim:

Kushner has frequently spoken out about the conflict in the Middle East; in 2011, the City University of New York U-turned on its decision to block an honorary degree given to the playwright on the grounds that he was insufficiently pro-Israel.

However, to describe Kushner as merely “insufficiently pro-Israel” is a blatant lie. His record includes opposition to Israel’s very existence and contempt for Jews who support the state. Also, note that most of his comments we cite below were from the 2nd Intifada – the merciless four year Palestinian campaign of antisemitic violence largely targeting civilians.

Israel’s founding was an act 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-terror 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 terror – including scores of suicide bombings..

 “…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.

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…

On the 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.”

The term often used to describe Jews like Kushner is “self-hating” – which, in fact, is often a misnomer. Many ‘As-A-Jews’, or, as Howard Jacobson termed them in his book ‘The Finkler Question‘, “Ashamed Jews”, Jews proud to be ashamed of their Israeli or Israel-supporting fellow Jews, don’t hate themselves at all.  They actually fancy themselves ‘better Jews’ – morally superior not only to Israeli Jews with their quotidian concerns about surviving in a dangerous region, but also to the vast majority in the diaspora Jewish community who proudly identify with the Jewish state.

Peter Beinart, Jewish Voice for Peace, Jessica Rosenberg, and their fellow travelers”, writes Lake, “are not sending rockets to Hamas” or “volunteering to fight the occupation in any physical way”. But, by supporting boycotts and other efforts to make Israel a pariah, “they are fighting”, ‘As-A-Jew’, “on the side of those who seek to destroy Israel”.

Though it’s not surprising that the Guardian continues to promote such fringe Jewish voices, it is extremely dispiriting that, even after horrors of Oct. 7, when Palestinian perpetrators carried out the most barbaric attack on Jews since the Holocaust, a lot of as-a-Jews not only failed to re-examine their belief that Israel is the primary obstacle to peace, but, as in the case of Glazer and Kushner, many doubled down on their ideology.

As with the Guardian, their nearly theological belief in Israel’s intrinsic malevolence ensures that no lessons will be learned.

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