themcglynn.com

06 May

Let’s end the blacklisting and censoring of opinions on Israel.

 Jewish Voice for Peace

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Dear The Mcglynn. 

If you see Tony Kushner’s work, you won’t soon forget it. The playwright behind Angels in America, Homebody/Kabul, and Caroline, or Change is one of the great artists working today, and one of the best at connecting global political issues to history, personal experience, values, and culture. That’s why Jewish Voice for Peace was so proud when he joined the  advisory board, and that’s why Jews for Racial and Economic Justice gave him the “Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Award.”

So it was no surprise to us that the John Jay College of Law would want to join Brandeis University, Julliard, Columbia, and many other schools in offering him an honorary degree.

But then we found out that  the CUNY Board of Trustees, of which John Jay College is a part, vetoed an honor for the first time in its history based on Kusher’s views on Israel.

This unprecedented decision came about because Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a CUNY trustee, disagrees with Tony Kushner over Israeli policy. Wiesenfeld has become notorious for his attacks upon those he perceives to be critics of Israel. He opposed the Khalil Gibran International Academy,  the first Arabic dual-language  public school in the country; opposed the rights of Muslims to build a Muslim Community Center in Lower Manhattan; and more recently, tried to block Kristofer Petersen-Overton’s appointment as an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College because of his political opinions about Palestine and Israel.

As disturbing as Mr. Wiesenfeld’s unfounded and vicious attack was the complicity and silence of the remaining Trustees — some of whom voted to oppose the slate if Kushner’s name remained on it, and none of whom spoke in his defense.

This incident has opened a window on the kind of censorship of political opinion, especially about Israel, that goes on behind closed doors. Political litmus tests should have no place in the academy. In particular, our public universities should always be a haven for open discourse.  

Let’s end the blacklisting and censoring of opinions on Israel. Let’s have a free and open debate without shaming, defaming, threatening, or unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism. 

Join Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No!, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Jews Against Islamophobia, Eve Ensler, Naomi Klein, and me in telling the CUNY Board of Trustees to apologize and overturn their unjust decision.  Join us in standing up for academic freedom and freedom of association. Join us in saying, that no one— whether a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright revered by the academy, or a Palestinian speaking out for her people, or a young doctoral student just starting their career— should be subject to blacklist or censure based on an arbitrarily imposed judgment of the correct way to love Israel. 

Sign the petition, and we’ll bring you with us when we deliver them to the CUNY Board of Trustees.

 

Cindy Greenberg, Board Member
Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace: Israelis and Palestinians, 2 People One Voice

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