Playwright Kushner receives honorary degree


(JTA) — Playwright Tony Kushner received an honorary degree from the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The awarding of the degree on June 3 during the university’s graduation ceremonies came a month after CUNY trustees first withheld a vote to award Kushner the degree when a trustee, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, accused him of being anti-Israel. Wiesenfeld quoted from several Kushner statements to advance his argument that Kushner’s harsh views on Israel placed him out of the bounds of acceptable discourse.

The trustees later reversed their decision.

During his address to the graduates, Kushner, a Pulitzer Prize winner, called the honorary degree “the most interesting one I had to work hardest to get," The Associated Press reported. “Behind it there stands a shining community of people, of spirits of whom I’m proud to be able to call myself kindred, who believe in the necessity of honest exchanges of ideas and opinions, who understand that life is a struggle to synthesize, to find a balance between responsibility and freedom, strategy and truth, survival and ethical humanity,” Kushner said.  

Kushner, who says he is a supporter of Israel, also has said that Israel was founded using "ethnic cleansing."

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