Now that the board of the City University of New York has had time to reconsider, and reverse their ill-fated decision to deny playwright Tony Kushner an honorary degree for his criticism of Israel, attention is shifting to CUNY board member Jeffrey Wiesenfeld who led the charge against Kushner.
Wiesenfeld, who described Kushner as a “Jewish anti-Semite,” might have his own explaining to do about his fundraising for Mishmeret Yesha, an organization which assists settlements in organizing security and whose security chief said, “We don’t want to have anything to do with any organization that employs Arabs,” in a 2008 interview.
A YouTube video of the group’s training can be viewed here:
Wiesenfeld helps fund Mishmeret Yesha through the Israel Independence Fund, where he serves as a director along with CUNY faculty member Judith Friedman Rosen (who also sits on the board of Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum), but their names aren’t listed anywhere on the organization’s website (990 tax filings can be viewed here and here). The website does, however, proudly list Mishmeret Yesha as a recipient of the Fund’s financial support.
Back in 2008, Phil Weiss excerpted from a Jerusalem Post article about Mishmeret Yesha:
[Moshe] Hager-Lau [a rabbi and colonel who chairs “Premilitary Religious Academies” in the West Bank] asked Mishmeret Yesha , an organization that has trained more than 100 rapid response teams throughout Judea and Samaria, to help train the yeshiva students.
Israel Danziger, head of operations at Mishmeret Yesha, said he had been asked by Hager-Lau to put together a general plan for educational institutions that would improve their preparedness to deal with terrorist infiltrations.
Danziger said the plan included an early-warning system; drills that would teach every settlement resident where to go in case of an attack; coordinating and practicing communications between emergency organizations and residents; and conducting periodic mock attacks.
However, one of Mishmeret Yesha’s central security demands is a no-Arab policy.
“We don’t want to have anything to do with any organization that employs Arabs,” said Danziger. “There is no sense in training a rapid response team in a settlement or an institution where you have a bunch of Arabs walking around gathering information.”
While Wiesenfeld might be regretting his decision to accuse Kushner of anti-Semitism, that scandal appears to be in the process of blowing over. But Wiesenfeld’s own apparent connections to bigotry and organizations which actively promote intolerance and racism in Israel and the occupied territories might not go away as easily.