According to a Thursday Wall Street Journal editorial (Ron DeSantis Is Persona Non-Grata at a Holocaust Memorial) by Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen, who lead the Jewish non-profit Tikvah Fund, which describes itself as a “philanthropic and ideas institution,” the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City, Manhattan, has banned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from speaking at June’s Jewish Leadership Conference.
“A few years ago, we helped launch the Jewish Leadership Conference, an annual gathering to consider the challenges facing the Jewish people and Israel,” Abrams (who served in foreign policy positions under presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump) and Cohen (the Executive Director of the Tikvah Fund since 2007) write.
“We thought it would be interesting to invite Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss how the ‘Florida model’ has contributed to the growth and vitality of Jewish life in his state. The event was to be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Until, as the saying goes, we got canceled,” they continued.
They lament: “…we know things are bad when a Jewish institution—in this case, a museum whose purpose is to keep Jewish heritage alive by remembering the Holocaust—turns on its own and tries to make a virtue of its own intolerance.”
Abrams and Cohen reveal that “when pressed for a further explanation of why our event was canceled, the museum’s CEO adopted a common form of doublespeak: We don’t do politics, he told us, whether left or right.” Apparently, that was Museum CEO Jack Kliger’s way of handling this embarrassment. Kliger’s successful career in media began in the mid-70s, at the Village Voice. He later became publisher of GQ Magazine and Conde Nast Publications, and Executive President of Parade Publications.
“Not surprisingly, this was false,” they push back. “In August 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, then a Democratic candidate for Congress, was a featured speaker at an event at the museum, sponsored by the Immigrant Arts Coalition. Her speech was widely covered in the news—both before and after the event—including public criticism of the museum for giving such a vociferous critic of Israel a prominent platform at a Jewish institution. Yet the event went on as planned.”
“The museum has hosted other politicians, including then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio,” Abrams and Cohen point out. “In April the museum hosted a conversation with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who recently described America as a society plagued by white supremacy and lauded America’s re-entry into the anti-Israel Human Rights Commission.”
The two authors concluded: “The Jewish Leadership Conference won’t be canceled, and the governor of the state with America’s third-largest Jewish population will speak. We will hold our event as planned, at a different, secular venue. But it is sad to see that the misguided leadership of a Jewish museum won’t allow alternative ideas a seat at the Jewish table.”
Former NY State Assemblyman Dov Hikind was outraged, tweeting: “Shame on the Museum of Jewish Heritage for politicizing their institution by banning Gov. Ron DeSantis, a stellar governor, and friend of Jews and Israel. It’s divisive and only harms the museum. I won’t visit again until the ban is rescinded and you shouldn’t either.”
Shame on the Museum of Jewish Heritage for politicizing their institution by banning @GovRonDeSantis, a stellar gov & friend of Jews/Israel!
It’s divisive and only harms the museum!
I won’t visit again until the ban is rescinded and you shouldn’t either!https://t.co/HgdB7hVCFE
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) May 5, 2022
Well, most Jews haven’t been showing up even before the scandal. Back in 2019, the NY Times reported that two decades after opening, the Museum of Jewish Heritage continued to have “lackluster attendance — 155,000 visitors a year — in a city with more than one million Jews.”
Who can blame them?