Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Question: Why Is UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Sponsoring the "One Night Only" Appearance of Israel-Hater Tony Kushner?

I don't care that Kushner is coming here. I don't care if people are willing to fork over their hard-earned shekels to listen to this acclaimed playwright/vocal Israel-disparager. What I care about is the fact the UJA Federation, the organization that sponsors Toronto's annual Walk With Israel, is giving its imprimatur to this event (see the full page ad featuring the Federation logo on the back page of this week's paper version of the CJN.)

In my book (or play), that's frikkin' nuts.

Update: The event is mentioned on the Federation's calendar of events (see May 9).

Update: Part of the Federation's "Mission" is  to "promote Jewish/Israel advocacy." It's hard to see how lending its imprimatur to a Tony Kushner appearance does that.

Update: CAMERA has a fairly extensive selection of Kushner's anti-Israel spewage:
In Kushner's Own Words
1) Kushner routinely charges Israel with ethnic cleansing and dispossession of Palestinians.
 The founding of the state of Israel required the dispossession of an indigenous group, the Palestinians.
Wrestling With Zion (Grove Press, 2003) Edited by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon; Introduction by the editors, p.2
[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)
(Although Kushner espouses affection for Israel in the same interview, his charge of "ethnic cleansing" is defamatory and baseless. )
2) Kushner has said repeatedly that the creation of the state of Israel was a mistake and should not have happened.
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)
Kushner: Establishing a state means fucking people over. However, I think that people in the late 20th century or early 21st century – having seen the Holocaust, having seen the 20th century and all of its horrors – cannot be complacent in the face of that.
Ha'aretz reporter: But you are saying that the very creation of Israel as a Jewish state was not a good idea.
Kushner: I think it 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)
3) Kushner goes so far as to blame “the existence of Israel” for world “peril” generally:
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)
4) Kushner emphatically rejects the notion that Israel represents him in any way.
Israel is a foreign country. I am no more represented by Israel than I am by Italy.
Ha'aretz (4/7/04)
I have huge problems with Zionism. As a Jew, I have always said the promised land seems to me to be the Constitution of the United States of America.
In These Times (3/4/02)
5) Kushner advocates radical policies toward Israel, contrary to the views of the mainstream in Israel and America.
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)
(While many Jews may support the creation of a Palestinian state under circumstances that assure the safety of Israel, few oppose construction of the protective security barrier and most reject inviting the U.N., known for its entrenched pro-Arab policies, to enforce “peace.”)
6) Kushner routinely levels incendiary and baseless accusations against Israel and its leaders.
People change. I believe deeply in the possibility of people changing. But Bush? Sharon? Nine months have passed [since September 11, 2001] and look at the mess the feckless blood-spattered plutocrat and the unindicted war criminal have wrought in the Middle East....
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.
London Times (5/7/02)
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)
...the savagery of Operation Defensive Shield... [launched by Israel in response to terrorist attacks in 2002].
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.) [see CAMERA's refutation of the fallacious Hedges account]
To avoid facing up to such atrocity, to sustain the refusal of any Israeli share in culpability, Zionism has produced a long, shameful, and debilitating history of denial...
Wrestling with Zion – Introduction p.5
7) Kushner's ambivalence about Israel, preoccupation with his own feelings and lack of historical awareness is apparent in a typically rambling passage written as an accompanying essay for the release of a CD by the Klezmatics entitled “Possessed.”
I want the State of Israel to exist (since it does anyway) and I want the cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs honored and I want to shokl with Jews at the Wailing Wall and at the same time (and I'm afraid this won't help sales of your CD) I think the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity. Contemplating the possible destruction of Israel (civil war?) I feel at times if I could ever kill for a nationalist cause, I might kill for that one but at the same time I wish modern Israel hadn't been born; I am a diasporan Jew, not a Zionist; and I say this feeling that Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, is, its Zionist agenda and homophobia notwithstanding, Jewish history's best most eloquent single answer to Hitler and the Holocaust; and is so because it is in Jerusalem but I wish Jerusalem was an international city under a U.N. protectorate; and I wish the Museum of the Holocaust in Washington was a Museum of the Jewish-American Experience instead, with a holocaust wing, and I wish it stood on the Mall alongside museums devoted to the sufferings and triumphs of other ethnic-American groups.
I don't think Kushner is a bad person. However, he is one of those squishy "progressives" whose Israel-hate serves the eliminationist agenda, with is evil. And no way does he deserve the kavod he's getting via Federation's sponsorship.

Update: Kushner sits on the Jewish Voice for Peace advisory board along with some other infamous Israel-despisers (including Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein).

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