Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) displayed a fascinating range of opinion over the recent City University of New York decision to award Tony Kushner an honorary degree. First the Board of the group issued a statement deploring the award as “politicization of the university.” This drew a vehement letter denouncing the SPME statement for its “ignorance, dogmatism and bogus authority.” That letter, by Robert Skloot, Professor Emeritus of Theatre and Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in turn drew a long and unusually provocative essay, framed as a letter, from Ernest Sternberg, a professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo. In all, a package worth reading.
One thought on “Three Strong Views of the Kushner Affair”
Much ado about nothing, really. In the first place, I’ve always had a problem with scholars or other academics forming an organization to, ostensibly, insinuate academia in to an emotional issue. Peace in the Middle East won’t happen because of a bunch of scholars. What roils the Middle East can’t be resolved by rational thinking, when much of the disagreements are irrational (emotional) in nature. If it could, considering how old the cultures in the Middle East are, scholars would have resolved the conflicts there long ago. SPME first needs to drop the pretense of being a group of scholars who want to bring peace. Second, we as a western civilization need to stop thinking that there can be peace in the Middle East. It just won’t happen.