The Tony Kushner-Brandeis tension seems to be resolved, in that he will indeed speak, despite isolated protests. He has released an open letter--eloquent, forthright, and, yes, of Kushneresque length--to the college's president in the lastest Forward.
Too bad he has to mount so vigorous a defense, but good that he does so, rather than back down or lay low.
"I don't want to ruin anyone's graduation but on the other hand, the world's a big, scary mess, and there's no reason why graduation, which is when students leave academia and enter the world, ought to be stress-, dissent- or anger-free." [for academia, read theatre?]
"You haven't asked me to earn this degree by clearing my name or by doing a better job than I've done already articulating my opinions about Israel. It would be wrong to ask that of me, and foolish of me to agree to attempt it. I've already done my best in essays and lengthy interviews. I always try to do better, to advance my thinking and writing, not to defend it.
"If any among your students, faculty, parents or trustees decide that they disagree with what I have said about Israel, I hope first they'll take the time to read what I've said about Israel, read a whole complete word-for-word interview or essay from start to finish, read two or more of them, in fact, rather than a half-dozen tasty tidbits emailed to them by people looking only to provoke outrage."
"Those who have shopped through my interviews and essays looking for "proof¨ that I hate Jews, Israel, Zionism , have produced the single sheet of quotes you sent me. These have been passed around before, talismans of my wickedness."
"I've been willing to explain myself, not in defense or apology, but because I know that the world is not a safe place for Jews. Anti-Semitism is very real and very threatening, and we're all entitled -- wise in fact -- to be vigilant. So even though I think critical thinking is necessary, even in times of danger, I understand that my criticism of Israel raises alarms. I want to be understood -- not agreed with, but understood.
"In the past several months, since I wrote the screenplay for the film Munich, I've become exhaustively familiar with a small but energetic and strident group of people who have called me immoral, an anti-Semite, a self-loathing Jew. In the hysteria of their invective there's a discernible desire to establish an orthodoxy, dissension from which is heresy. I hope that the intellectual curiosity, skepticism and integrity of the Brandeis community will be proof against their tactics and their intentions, which are dishonorable and all too familiar.
"Brandeis teachers, trustees, alumni, students or their parents may still angrily disagree with me, even after giving me a fair hearing. I will arrive on campus at the time I was invited to arrive, confident in and appreciative of the Universitycommunity's adherence to the laudable norms of liberal arts institutions, which encompass and encourage vigorous, civil disagreement, which preclude only violence, the urge to punish, to silence, to excommunicate."
Again, we might substitute theatre for university here as well.
Once again, he asserts: "You haven't asked me to earn this degree by clearing my name or by doing a better job than I've done already articulating my opinions about Israel. It would be wrong to ask that of me, and foolish of me to agree to attempt it." Which I take to mean: no need to finesse, just put the words out there and let people respond as they will.