Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, talk about controversy surrounding City University of New York board of trustee's decision not to award an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner.
@keren from East Village No, the Palestinians case against Israel is your treatment of the people that call themselves Palestinians. Israel jails their children for throwing rocks, bulldozes their homes, murders them and steals their land,
"Israel does not occupy “Palestine.” " OK, you just put the entire population in what basically amounts to a jail.
It doesn't matter what you call them - Palestinians, Arabs - Israel's actions are wrong, you know it and I know it.
If you bulldozed my home, jailed my child, murdered my family and stole my land, I think I might wish you weren't around anymore either. Go figure...
There is no peace in the region because Israel does not want peace, Israel wants land.
And yes, it is apparent that throughout history people have not wanted to live with the Jewish people. Sorry, not trying to hurt your feelings here but you guys have been kicked out of a lot of countries, not to mention the Holocaust. Personally, I think a homeland is in order. But I also think that if you can't find a way to get along with people, history is doomed to repeat itself. You are the bully on the block, you can get away with terrorizing people for a time but the day will come when someone will take you out. It's just the way it goes.
Israel's paranoia has turned it into a monster. Wake up and do the right thing before it is too late. You are a smart people, why can't you see what you're doing to yourselves?
The Palestinians’ Case Against Israel is Based on a Genocidal Lie
The Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and the Hamas Government of Gaza both claim that Israel is “Occupied Palestine.”
This is a lie.
Israel does not occupy “Palestine.” When Israel was created in 1948, there was no Palestine to occupy. There has never been a political entity, state or country called Palestine in the Middle East.
The derivation of the name “Palestine” is Roman not Arabic. It was a name affixed to the Jewish homeland as an insult and punishment when Rome conquered Jerusalem and dispersed most of the Jews who lived there to the four corners of the globe.
The land on which Israel now stands was part of the Turkish empire and had been for four hundred years. The Turks are not Arabs and there was never a province, nor an entity in the Turkish empire called “Palestine”.
In fact virtually no Arabs called themselves “Palestinians” until 1964, the year the “Palestine Liberation Organization” was created. The goal of the PLO, as expressed in its charter, was not to liberate Palestinian Arabs from foreign rule but to destroy the Jewish state.
In 1949 Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt annexed Gaza.
But the annexation of the so-called Palestinian homeland by these two powers called forth no protests from the Arab world. In 1964, Jordan rules the West Bank and Egypt ruled Gaza, but the PLO did not call for the liberation of the West Bank or Gaza. It only called for the destruction of the “Zionist entity.”
It is true that the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza are suffering. But they are suffering because of sixty years of Arab aggression; sixty years of Arabs rejecting peace, and sixty years of Arab wars to destroy the Jewish state. They are suffering because whenever the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza were given the opportunity to hold free elections, they elected corrupt and terrorist regimes to rule over them.
Throughout human history, people have suffered deprivation and oppression. But never in history has a people waged a calculated war on women and children, and honored the murderers as heroes and martyrs, as the Palestinians now do.
The lie that Israel “occupied” Palestine is genocidal in nature. The slogan that flows from it – “Palestine Must Be Free From the River to the Sea” – is a demand that the Jewish state and its citizens must disappear.
There is one reason and one reason alone that there is no peace between the Arabs and Israel, and that is because since 1948, the Arab aggressors have refused to live side by side with a non-Muslim, non-Arab, Jewish state.
For a chuckle about a potential commencement day address, check out:
Should it be impossible for a professor to be actually anti Israel and have a job at Cuny or anywhere else in New York or the US? Will you cover Campus Watch by the ADL, which monitors just that. I find it deplorable that this would not be the case. Israel is a foreign country. I want it to continue to exist, but many of their recent actions have been deplorable. Turning down Fatah's (secret) willingness to give them everything they wanted in negotiations, "Al Jazeera's nasty leak" according to Thomas Friedman, suggests that Israel does NOT, in fact, want peace. Or didn't. A bad miscalculation on their part. Yet the NY Times publishes letters by an organization claiming that the Palestinians are at fault because of they are intractable. And why do we hear of Kushner's comments on air but not that "Arabs, [or Palestinians, I can't recall], aren't human." That was defamation if anything is. Why no comment from the Anti Defamation League? I heard the same statement from a young Israelis I knew in the 60s in The Experiment in International Living, (loving). Great people! But I guess thinking thinking a people "are animals" helps to justify taking their land, house, or "coffee shop" in Allen Ginsberg's poem. Yes, Jews need a home land. But to the American in me, having been in the Civil Rights Movement as a white Southerner in the South, the words"Jewish State" does sound like apartheid. With the Arab Spring, Israel can no longer claim to be the only "democratic" state in the region, and our only democratic ally. What do they do for U.S.? Their economy is better than ours. Why do we continue to give them economic and military aid? Aipac, and because we used to like them. Many of my friends, Jews and gentiles alike are turning off, as right wing settlers grab more & more land for their ever growing families. Dealing with overpopulation is a responsibility for Jews as much as anyone else. It might be a good idea to convert people or adopt children. Please give us coverage of J St, of the New Israeli Left, specifically interview the authors of the article of that name in The Nation, and of the group of intellectuals in Israel who are saying basically what I am saying. Or would that be anti Israel?
@keren from East Village
Israel is just doing it much more slowly. It's still ethnic cleansing.
@JEFFREY S. WIESENFELD "D Franklin -- here's a start regarding Tony Kushner's Anti-Israel Falsehoods"
I read it - what Tony Kushner says is true. Jewish people should be very proud of him.
Do some research Jeffrey.
D Franklin you're right - you don't know what "ethnic cleansing" is.
Wiesenfeld gave a number of examples in his letter. There is also today's headlines of Islamists butchering Christian Coptics in Egypt, burning churches, the Isalmist Nigerian racist gencocide against Black Nigerian Christians as well as many others in the last century. The blood libel against Israel re: ethnic cleansing is in fashion among various Arab and Islamic extremist groups and some of their western fans, but no honest person who has even a basic grasp of the facts and reality agrees.
From a governance point of view the CUNY board acted appropriately. The job of trustees is to evaluate recommendations and raise concerns and questions. A board member unexpectedly raised a concern related to the Kushner degree. The board was not prepared to address the concern in a thoughtful manner at the time. Therefore the matter was tabled.
So the question becomes what would the board's next steps would have been. Good practice would suggest that they engage in just the kinds of conversations that are happening publicly now - examining as a board, working with faculty, the role of honorary degrees in the University's mission, the criteria for awarding honorary degrees, the role of the board vs the role of faculty in selecting honorees, principles related to freedom of speech, separation (or not) of politics and achievements, etc.
Such conversations reaffirm or refine an institution's values, clarify roles and authority, and establish a stronger basis for leadership decision making in future. Short-cutting the process discourages trustees from speaking up in future about controversial matters, undermining their useful role in the system of checks and balances.
@JEFFREY S. WIESENFELD
Here's a start regarding Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
@ D Franklin -- here's a start regarding Tony Kushner's Anti-Israel Falsehoods
@JEFFREY S. WIESENFELD from New York
"What makes Mr. Kushner different from other honorees who are known Israel critics among the 450 or so honorary degrees awarded during the 12 years I have been on the board (all of them approved, including with my vote) is that he accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing — a term that crosses the line."
It would only "cross the line" if it weren't true. Do some research, if what the Israeli's are doing to the Palestinians isn't ethnic cleansing I don't know what is.
If Tony Kushner were a student, no trustee or administrator would have the right to deny him a degree if the requisite requirements were fulfilled.
On the other hand, an honorary degree is wholly within the discretion of the board to grant. It identifies the university with accomplished, generous citizens or public figures. It is also a tool that enhances a university’s image in the educational marketplace.
Mr. Kushner’s degree was opposed by a majority of the CUNY board because he is an extremist. No extremist from any quarter, whether from far left or far right, is a good face for any university.
What makes Mr. Kushner different from other honorees who are known Israel critics among the 450 or so honorary degrees awarded during the 12 years I have been on the board (all of them approved, including with my vote) is that he accuses Israel of ethnic cleansing — a term that crosses the line.
Ethnic cleansing is Nazi Germany, Bosnia, Darfur and Rwanda, to name a few (the American Indians didn’t fare too well, either). If Israel is an ethnic cleanser, how is it that over one million Arabs live better there than in almost any Arab state?
CUNY should remain a place of comfort and welcome for all of our students, faculty and administrators — including supporters of the Jewish state.
JEFFREY S. WIESENFELDNew York, May 5, 2011
I'm as fed up as the majority of the American public is over the, what seems to be "Israel right or wrong"! I don't believe in "America right or wrong" why should I buy into that regarding another country to which I have no patriotic feelings! That we have here in America taken on that fight for Israel as policy has gone beyond any kind of support of a "friend" that I buy into. One tells one's friends, if real friends, when they are wrong. We don't do that with Israel when their military slaughters 100s of Palestinians, and innocent ones at that, to the 3, 4, ie few Israelis killed (and I'm against that for sure) by Palestinian Israel haters. They should be taken to task by the US for not targeting particular individuals. Tony Kirshner is correct.
Where is all the phony outrage when universities reject conservative honorary degrees and graduation speakers...
more liberal pablum...lol...
As a faculty member I have sat on Board of Trustees Committees and essentially because of political issues where folks feel intimidated all vote yea following Trustee. Very little autonomy in an alleged free speech and acadmeic freedom zone.
Phony Kushner is whining about being boycotted bu he supports cultural and academic boyocotts against Israel. this pampered playwright is used to benig idol-worshipped and adored by the nyc liberal intelligentisa -- but he made his own bed and now has to sleep in it. Boo Hoo.
I disagree with Kushner. I find it offensive to say that the Jews should not have a homeland and should never have gotten one. I find it disgusting that he does this as a Jew, and would like to point out that these days it seems that being in the tribe doesn't matter to support of Israel (see: Chomsky). I feel nauseous when he tries to deny his prior statements. Whether that means he shouldn't get an honorary degree I cannot say.
Future reference, the full quote was "People who worship death for their children are not human... They have developed a culture which is unprecedented in human history." This was said in the midst of a discussion of the moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinian cause. I would agree, as I hope most WNYC listeners would, that just like any other modern murderers like bin Laden, groups that cheer upon the deaths of innocent civilians and venerate those who caused the destruction are inhuman. This is not about Palestinians any more than attacking al Qaeda is about Muslims. I don't care that they have "no other voice" to convey their frustrations at the limitations placed on their movements and actions due precisely to the acts of terror that date back to day one of the state of Israel.
To Mr. Sansom, I have actually tended to see that WNYC leans a little in the opposite direction (not too much though). Referring to "Palestine," an independent state that does not and has never existed, and an "occupation," which is a little hard to do in a non-existent nation, is inherently slanted to me. I think they *should* have a nation, and know that Israel would love nothing more than to peacefully coexist, so let's stop being childish and making this a one-or-the-other fight so we can solve a crisis.
Please don't forget the intellectual independence of the university. They have the right to choose their own path just as much as a professor, I'd think. Other intellectuals have the right to be upset, just as some are and others aren't. Which, by the way, I don't think should be the litmus test for the action's validity; not everything a university does will be appreciated by all students, alumni or honorary alumni, or others in the community.
I think it's clear that this happens on both sides, as we can see from these comments, so let's try not to make any one person look like the devil here.
@Hugh......LOL, I can't improve upon your comment to make my point that vicious hate certainly exists on both sides of the aisle. (and sorry that your cursory Google search didn't confirm the facts, but they are true, and Dershowitz confirmed it in a speech on Thursday night at the Princeton Club)
....and, Good Heavens, who would want to use their real name here with ad hominem nuts like you out there? You sound unhinged.
As usual, the intellectual coward who goes by the moniker "Martin Chuzzlewit" has his facts -- and spelling -- wrong. (It's Alan Dershowitz).
I find _no_ record of Brandeis deciding _not_ to award Dershowitz an honorary degree. Dershowitz has been given an honorary degree by CUNY, despite his repeated support for Israeli war crimes and his racist characterization of all Palestinians as terrorists.
There is a perfectly reasonable question of who deserves an honorary degree (if anyone does -- some universities do not offer honorary degrees at all). Supporters of war crimes -- like Dershowitz -- arguably do not. Or maybe they deserve them on the basis of their sterling work in other areas.
One way or another, nobody can rationally claim that Kushner has supported terrorism. He has voiced criticism of Israel. But in the racist hysteria of the likes of Dershowitz or "Chuzzlewit", criticism of Israel is a crime meriting death.
(Let us remember that Princeton professor emeritus, Richard Falk, who is Jewish, received _death threats_ after saying that Israel had likely committed war crimes.)
Finally, the opinions of individuals -- left or right -- are their own. A point violently rejected by "Martin Chuzzlewit." Individuals' opinions are _their own_ -- by right. The actions of institutions, especially public ones like CUNY, are not so protected or privileged.
This gets into an area on which the Brian Lehrer Show is consistently poor -- Israel-Palestine (WNYC barely conceals pro-Israel bigotry).
So some notes of the kind WNYC and Brian Lehrer typically omit:
1. Benno Schmidt, chair of the CUNY board of trustees not-so-subtlely joined Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, who expressly asserted -- repeatedly -- that Palestinians are "not human" -- Wiesenfeld's words, reported in the New York Times.
2. Actor Mandy Patinkin (who is Jewish) has voiced criticism of CUNY.
3. Barbara Ehrenreich (who is also Jewish) has asked CUNY to remove her from the record of those receiving honorary degrees.
4. Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer prize-winning author, is returning his honorary degree
5. Ellen Schrecker, Yeshiva University historian, is returning her honorary degree.
Before the current CUNY incident puts everyone here into a big (self-righteous) left-wing huff about the very foundations of academic freedom coming under attack by right wing Israel supporters and blah, blah, blah, blah............let's note that this type of thing is instigated by the hypocrites on the LEFT....ALL THE TIME.There is no better example than Allen Dershowitz (who is actually a liberal Obama supporter), who has been repeatedly denied honorary degrees for being too PRO-Israel, including at Brandeis (!) and Hebrew University(!). His award last May at Tel Aviv University was made only after vehement attempts by the "progressive" faculty there to block it failed. And, gosh, it was just as ugly as the CUNY contretemps....I remember him being described as a "well known douchebag" by one young female "scholar" there.So, let's mount our high horses in full awareness that this isn't confined to one side.
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