The City University of New York cancelled plans to award an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner after a board member objected to his “anti-Israel” views.
According to The Jewish Week, board member Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld raised objections about the possibility that Kushner could be given a chance to speak at the graduation ceremony.
Kushner has criticized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, but has also said that “I want the state of Israel to continue to exist. I’ve always said that. I’ve never said anything else. My positions have been lied about and misrepresented in so many ways. People claim that I’m for a one-state solution, which is not true.”
Several years ago, Kushner was to be honored with an honorary degree from Brandeis University. In effort to prevent that from occuring was denied.
According to a CUNY spokesman, Kushner was supposed to receive the honorary degree from John Jay College. A majority of the board was in favor of granting Kushner the honor, but nine out of the twelve board members must ultimately voice approval. The spokesman added that this was the first time in the history of the school that the board had tabled an honorary degree that had been chosen by the individual colleges.
The board member who led the effort against Kushner, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, is no stranger to controversy himself, having once gotten into a shouting match with City Councilman Charles Barron during a ground-breaking at Fiterman Hall.
A recording of the entire board meeting can be heard here.