Palestinians are not ‘human,’ says CUNY trustee who rejected Kushner

by Philip Weiss on May 6, 2011 | Mondoweiss

The shoe is finally on the other foot. The pro-Israel folks have overplayed their hand. Or one of them anyway– so how long before Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, the CUNY trustee who helped to kibosh the Tony Kushner honorary degree out of concern that he had hurt Israel, has to resign? The Times has a couple of stories upping the pressure on the school. Here’s one, reflecting “outrage” over Kushner’s delaurelization. And this is from Jim Dwyer’s interview with Wiesenfeld in the Times:

I tried to ask a question about the damage done by a short, one-sided discussion of vigorously debated aspects of Middle East politics, like the survival of Israel and the rights of the Palestinians, and which side was more callous toward human life, and who was most protective of it.

But Mr. Wiesenfeld interrupted and said the question was offensive because “the comparison sets up a moral equivalence.”

Equivalence between what and what? “Between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “People who worship death for their children are not human.”

Did he mean the Palestinians were not human? “They have developed a culture which is unprecedented in human history,” he said.

The last statement is important. It shows how supporters of Israel justify a situation unprecedented in recent human history– denial of rights for 7 decades to a population promised a state by the international community in 1947– by making Palestinians non-human, exceptional. And thus the European experience of Jewry, so scarring and, we like to believe, exceptional, is projected on to the next victim in the cycle.


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