Toronto federation won’t back Tony Kushner event at beneficiary agency


TORONTO (JTA) – The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has dissociated itself from an event at one its beneficiary agencies featuring controversial U.S. playwright Tony Kushner.

In a statement this week, the federation said after “thoughtful consideration” it would not support the May event at the Koffler Centre of the Arts because Kushner is a member of the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, “an organization that supports boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.”

Though Kushner “has publicly stated that he does not support the BDS movement, UJA Federation has concerns about [his] association with JVP, and we will not support an event where there is any link to organizations supporting BDS.”

“Therefore, we are disassociating ourselves from this particular event involving Mr. Kushner, although we remain strongly supportive of the Koffler Centre of the Arts.”

In response, the arts center said it is “very fortunate that Tony Kushner, one of the world’s greatest living playwrights and certainly among the most significant thinkers of our time, has accepted our invitation to visit Toronto for an evening.”

Kushner has “publicly and repeatedly stated” that he does not support BDS and “we accept this acknowledgement,” Tiana Koffler Boyman, the center’s co-chair of the board, said in a statement.

Kushner is perhaps best known for his two-part epic play “Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes” and for screenplays for the Steven Spielberg movies “Munich” and “Lincoln.” He has won the Pulitzer Prize, two Tony Awards, an Emmy and the New York Film Critics Circle Award.

He has said he has “never supported a boycott of the State of Israel. I don’t believe it will accomplish anything positive in terms of resolving the crisis.” Kushner said he remains on the advisory board of JVP “even though I disagree with the organization about a number of issues, including the boycott.”

Kushner has said Israel committed “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians during its 1948 War of Independence. In 2010, he supported 60 leading Israeli actors and playwrights who refused to work at a new theater in Ariel, one of Israel’s largest West Bank settlements.

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