By Gabriela Resto-Montero
MANHATTAN — Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Tony Kushner was blocked from receiving an honorary degree from the City University of New York Monday after a trustee accused him of criticizing the state of Israel, the New York Times reported.
The John Jay School of Criminal Justice submitted Kushner for the honorary award but trustee Jeffrey Wisenfeld objected to the choice, saying Kushner had previously supported boycotting Israel, tied its policies to ethnic cleansing and criticized its military, the Times reported.
"I think it's up to all of us to consider the fairness of those things," Wisenfeld told the Times.
"Especially when the state of Israel, which is our sole democratic ally in the area, sits in the neighborhood which is almost universally dominated by administrations which are almost universally mysoginist, antigay, anti-Christian," Wisenfeld said to the paper.
The "Angels in America" author told the Times that he has criticized Israel's policies in the past and believes that the removal of Palestinians to form the state constituted ethnic cleansing, but that he has never supported a boycott and believes strongly in the country's right to exist.
"I'm sickened that this is happening in New York City," Kushner said to the Times of the vote. "Shocked, really."
"This has been an incredibly ugly experience," he said.
University faculty have asked that the vote be reversed and, according to the Times, the last time a candidate for an honorary degree was blocked by the board was in 1961.
Kushner said he would not accept a degree at this point, even if the decision was overturned. He received an honorary degree from Juilliard last year.