On PBS, Radical Playwright Dismisses Anti-Semitism by Leftists on Gaza, Rips Biden

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On taxpayer-funded PBS, radical-left playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner appeared on Amanpour & Co. and tried to downplay left-wing anti-Semitism and weirdly claimed that there is nothing anti-Semitic about calling for an “intifada” against Israel.

And, even though pro-Palestinian activists have found substantially more support on the left than on the right in the aftermath of the October 7 terrorist attack, Kushner went on to claim that there is a greater problem of anti-Semitism by right-wingers.

Kushner, a gay activist best known for his ranting play about AIDS, Angels in America, ripped Biden from the Left. He said he was ”disappointed” at how supportive the President has been of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, and that “he should have been much firmer about stopping this, and so some of the blood is on our hands at this point.”

Interviewer Walter Isaacson followed up by recalling Kushner’s history of trying to separate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism, and asked if that is “getting harder to do now.” The liberal writer responded by complaining that anti-Semitism has been “weaponized” by the right to support Israel: “The weaponization of the charge of anti-Semitism — which is by the right, which is not a new thing — but I think that, you know, there is still absolutely no question the support of the Palestinian people — criticism of Israel is in no way anti-Semitic — it isn’t anti-Jewish — it isn’t even anti-Israel.”

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After noting that the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz — which he did not identify as left-wing — is often critical of Israel, he added: “…it’s not a country that operates with a single voice, and there’s a fiction that’s been created by the right in the United States that it does and therefore everyone in the United States — especially all American Jews — have to speak with a single voice of absolute blind support for Israel and whatever it’s doing.”

Then, even though the word “intifada” has repeatedly been used to refer to violent revolts against Israel, he tried to whitewash the use of the term by anti-Israel student protesters and again shifted blame for anti-Semitism onto the right:

And so it’s not any more difficult to say that students protesting and using the term “intifada” are not anti-Semites — “intifada” is not an anti-Semitic term — and the danger to Jews — and there’s always danger to Jews — we’re a very small minority, and we have a very unique position of having been targeted throughout history — you know, for at least the last 2,000 years — and suffering terrible oppression and persecution. But our — the danger to us, I think, almost always comes from the right, not the left.

Isaacson then actually pushed back against his liberal guest’s defense of the word “intifada” by following up: “You talk about calls for ‘intifada,’ and you’re saying that’s not really an attack on Jews. But do you think it’s now — especially on college campuses — those chants become an attack on Jews, anti-Semitic.”

After Kushner declared that he was more worried about anti-Semitism from supporters of Donald Trump, Isaacson further pressed: “But you’re not worried about anti-Semitism on the left?”

The liberal writer continued to be in denial about there being a home for anti-Semitism in the far left as he continued to spin:

… it’s easy to understand where the anger comes from, and easy to also see where our real enemies are. I mean, the spectacle of Elise Stefanik who supports Donald Trump wholeheartedly — which means that she supports the replacement theory, which is just fundamentally an anti-Semitic theory. Getting up and yelling at the presidents of these three schools about their weakness on anti-Semitism is ridiculous.

Transcript follows:

PBS’s Amanpour & Co. and CNN International

January 8, 2024

TONY KUSHNER: I’m a big supporter of Joe Biden, but I have to say I’m very disappointed so far in the administration’s response to the bombing of Gaza.

WALTER ISAACSON: Wait, wait. Why is that? Because they’ve not been harsh enough about the civilian casualties?

KUSHNER: Well, I mean, yeah, you know, the President started out, you know, I think mistakenly embracing Netanyahu and sort of saying, “We’re with you all the way,” and then, you know, uttering these kind of fairly tepid platitudes about, “Let’s be careful about what we do next” because of course everyone knew the minute we heard about the horrors of October 7th that the response was going to be horrendous, and that Gaza was going to be bombed, and that thousands of people were going to be killed. …

(…)

KUSHNER: And I feel that he should have been much firmer about stopping this, and so some of the blood is on our hands at this point.

ISAACSON: Do you think that sometimes this criticism of Israel — people are saying it’s motivated partly by anti-Semitism — you’ve tried in letters you’ve written last November I think to separate anti-Semitism from being anti-Israel. But is this getting harder to do now?

KUSHNER: The weaponization of the charge of anti-Semitism — which is by the right, which is not a new thing — but I think that, you know, there is still absolutely no question the support of the Palestinian people — criticism of Israel is in no way anti-Semitic — it isn’t anti-Jewish — it isn’t even anti-Israel. I mean, you know, the Israeli press is full of incredibly, you know — read Ha’aretz — I mean, the Israelis are — the Israeli press is certainly full of self-criticism. And this is a time of profound internal conflict in Israel. And, you know, it’s a — it’s not a country that operates with a single voice, and there’s a fiction that’s been created by the right in the United States that it does and therefore everyone in the United States — especially all American Jews — have to speak with a single voice of absolute blind support for Israel and whatever it’s doing.

And I think this is a danger for any country to not tolerate dissent. And so it’s not any more difficult to say that students protesting and using the term “intifada” are not anti-Semites — “intifada” is not an anti-Semitic term — and the danger to Jews — and there’s always danger to Jews — we’re a very small minority, and we have a very unique position of having been targeted throughout history — you know, for at least the last 2,000 years — and suffering terrible oppression and persecution. But our — the danger to us, I think, almost always comes from the right, not the left.

And I see no danger to Jews in people arguing that the Palestinian people need to be treated, you know, in accordance with international standards of decency and accorded their human rights. And I think it’s a great danger to Jews for Jews to not speak out in support of the Palestinians because it, you know — I don’t think that being Jewish is a tribal identity — I don’t believe that — I don’t believe in tribalism — it’s always a mistake. And Jewish ethical teaching doesn’t draw the line at between Jew and non-Jew.

ISAACSON: You talk about calls for “intifada,” and you’re saying that’s not really an attack on Jews. But do you think it’s now — especially on college campuses — those chants become an attack on Jews, anti-Semitic.

KUSHNER: Well, look, I don’t teach on a college campus. I have not — I’ve been very busy in the last few weeks — I have not gone to college campuses to — I have seen no evidence that there’s a huge increase in attacks on Jewish students. I think there have been some reports of altercations between Jewish students and other people — but I don’t see a great danger — it doesn’t strike me —

ISAACSON: Are you not worried about the rise of anti-Semitism in the past three months?

KUSHNER: I’m very worried about anti-Semitism. I’m worried about the rise of anti-Semitism with people like Trump sitting down and having dinner with Kanye West and that creature, whatever his name was.

ISAACSON: But you’re not worried about anti-Semitism on the left?

KUSHNER: Anywhere that anti-Semitism appears is a concern for me if I see evidence of anti-Semitism. I have — almost all of my friends are on the left. I have a number of Palestinian friends. None of them are anti-Semites. If they were anti-Semites, I wouldn’t be friends with them, and I imagine they wouldn’t want to be friends with me. There’s a great deal of anger against Israel. There’s a great deal of anger against the Jewish American community. It is — I mean, I’m not minimizing the sort of scariness of anger directed at Jews anywhere at any time can feel like it will boil over very easily into anti-Semitism because anti-Semitism is such a pervasive theme in Western consciousness.

But I think with, you know, with goodwill and discernment and using your faculties of reason rather than emotion, it’s easy to understand where the anger comes from, and easy to also see where our real enemies are. I mean, the spectacle of Elise Stefanik who supports Donald Trump wholeheartedly — which means that she supports the replacement theory, which is just fundamentally an anti-Semitic theory. Getting up and yelling at the presidents of these three schools about their weakness on anti-Semitism is ridiculous.

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