NEW YORK — City University of New York voted May 2 not to honour playwright Tony Kushner with an honorary degree at its commencement after Jewish board member Jeffrey Wiesenfeld objected, citing the Pulitzer Prize winner’s anti-Israel statements. The decision could be the first time in CUNY’s history that a candidate for an honorary degree has been vetoed, the New York Jewish Week reported. Kushner has endorsed the boycott, divestments and sanctions campaign against Israel and written that Israel was “founded in a program that… was ethnic cleansing.” He’s also said that “it would have been better” if Israel hadn’t been created.
Brit Ban Challenged
OSLO — The umbrella group for Norwegian Jews is opposing a proposed amendment that would ban ritual circumcision on boys under 15. The Mosaic Religious Community has sent a letter to Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store and Justice Minister Knut Storberget outlining its opposition to the amendment proposed by the country’s state ombudsman for children. The age limit would be part of a proposed change in the law that would allow ritual circumcision in public hospitals, which is currently banned. Under the proposed change, parents could either have only a doctor present or have religious circumcisers present to carry out the procedure under the observation of medical professionals.
DENVER — The University of Colorado at Boulder is establishing a $2-million endowed chair in Jewish history. The gift was made by two sisters, who are school alumnae, in honour of their late father. The Louis P. Singer Endowed Chair in Jewish History makes CU-Boulder the sixth U.S. public university to establish a chair in Jewish history. Seventeen U.S. universities in total have them. It will support a senior faculty position in the school’s four-year-old Jewish studies program.
Nazi Hunter Acquitted of Libel
BUDAPEST — Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff was acquitted by a Budapest court of libel charges against him from an accused Hungarian Nazi war criminal.
Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was acquitted May 3, two days before his accuser, Sandor Kepiro, was to go on trial in Budapest. Kepiro is charged with being involved in the murder of more than1,200 Jews, Serbs and Gypsies during a raid by the wartime Hungarian Gendarmerie at Novi Sad in 1942.
Kepiro, 97, filed suit after Zuroff, the head of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, submitted documents to the Hungarian courts in 2006 regarding Kepiro’s alleged role in the murders of 1,246 civilians in Novi Sad. Most of the victims were taken to the Danube River and shot in January 1943.
Kepiro was found guilty of involvement twice – once by the pre-Nazi Hungarian courts, and again after the war, in 1946. By then he had fled via Austria to Argentina. He returned to Budapest in 1996, and Zuroff, who searches for Nazi war criminals under the Wiesenthal Center’s Operation Last Chance program, found him.
In his verdict, the judge said Zuroff had acted in good faith by first contacting the Hungarian prosecutors after discovering that Kepiro had returned to Hungary from Argentina before notifying the media.
“Needless to say, I am relieved to have been acquitted, but the most important issue is Kepiro’s guilt, which will be hopefully established by a criminal court in his trial,” Zuroff said.