After uproar, Kushner to accept NY honorary degree
Wiesenfeld said Kushner had accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing.” He did not quote directly from Kushner’s writings but cited statements from Kushner that he attributed to the website of Norman Finkelstein, a political scientist who angered many Jewish groups with his book “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.”
“It’s very inappropriate for a trustee to use the board as a platform for grinding axes in public,” he said.
Some trustees said afterward they were “blindsided” and thought more discussion was needed. But since there were no regularly scheduled meetings before graduation, the tabling effectively denied Kushner the degree.
The move sparked outrage among academics and fans of Kushner’s work _ and some support from conservative organizations. It was reversed in a hastily called executive committee meeting, though Kushner at first said he wasn’t sure he would accept the honor anyway.
He changed his mind after Kaplowitz, an associate professor of English at John Jay, asked him to reconsider.
“I told him that we so much wanted to celebrate him, and the faculty wanted to remediate this terrible wrong to him, and have the opportunity to thank him for his incredible contribution to the arts and to public discourse,” she said.
Kushner will attend both morning and afternoon ceremonies at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center because the graduating class of more than 2,000 is too big for one commencement.
His address, he said, “will not be a diatribe about what happened to me. That would be inappropriate.”
“He expected that he would be alone in the vote,” Sheinkopf said, “but the others joined him.”