UPDATE: The Museum issued a statement about the “factually inaccurate opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal,” clarifying that no one “was banned or cancelled” and that the decision was made about “a rental request that was denied.”
The full statement has been added to this post below.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been declared “persona non grata” at a New York City Holocaust Memorial after the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage banned the Republican governor, according to a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
DeSantis was to speak at the annual Jewish Leadership Conference that was to be held at the museum on June 12, but staff said that he did not “align with the museum’s values and its message of inclusivity,” an apparent stance over DeSantis standing for the rights of parents and banning classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender dysphoria among K-3 students.
Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen, leading members of the Jewish non-profit Tikvah Fund, a philanthropy organization, invited DeSantis to speak at their conference to “discuss how the ‘Florida model’ has contributed to the growth and vitality of Jewish life” in Florida. The pair said in the editorial that staff from the museum told them DeSantis was banned and that they could either disinvite him or the event would not be welcome at the facility.
Abrams and Cohen said the CEO told them the museum doesn’t “do politics…whether left or right,” but dispute that assertion pointing to a 2018 appearance by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who was the Democrat nominee at the time, having defeated incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in the party’s primary in New York’s 14th Congressional District. The museum has also “hosted other politicians, including then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio,” they added.
Abrams and Cohen insisted in the WSJ op-ed that they will not cancel the Jewish Leadership Conference unless DeSantis, who is governor of the state with the third-largest Jewish population, will still speak.
Responding to a request for comment from WFLA, the governor’s office said, “Governor DeSantis has always been a steadfast friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” praising the editorial by Abrams and Cohen regarding the “remarkable Jewish renaissance” happening in Florida under his leadership.
“We hope that this is all a misunderstanding, and the museum leadership will rectify the situation, because a Holocaust memorial should never be politicized,” DeSantis’s office added.
The Florida leader’s press secretary, Christine Pushaw, responded to a comment from New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz to say “a Holocaust memorial should not be politicized!”
“Disgraceful. I’m so embarrassed to have anything in common with these woke weaklings. I hope any Jewish conservative who makes donations to New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage (@MJHnews) pulls it. They don’t just hate DeSantis, they hate you too,” Markowicz tweeted.
“It’s sad that a museum with such an important mission, as a Holocaust memorial, would subordinate that mission with a petty and partisan stunt. A Holocaust memorial should not be politicized!” Pushaw responded.
It’s sad that a museum with such an important mission, as a Holocaust memorial, would subordinate that mission with a petty and partisan stunt. A Holocaust memorial should not be politicized!
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) May 5, 2022
The governor’s spokesperson echoed that sentiment in responding to Elliot Kaufman, the letters editor of the Wall Street Journal, which prompted conservative journalist Daniel Greenfield to note in a tweet, “Museum of Jewish Heritage’s ex-officio trustees included NY Gov and other Dem leaders … the chair is Bruce Ratner, a real estate tycoon with a ton of city business … wouldn’t have been hard to apply pressure.”
Museum of Jewish Heritage’s ex-officio trustees included NY Gov and other Dem leaders https://t.co/boAzx2MIlV
the chair is Bruce Ratner, a real estate tycoon with a ton of city business
wouldn’t have been hard to apply pressure
— Daniel Greenfield – “Hang Together or Separately” (@Sultanknish) May 6, 2022
On Friday, the Museum issued a statement refuting the information relayed in the op-ed, saying. “No one was banned or cancelled. No contract with the Tikvah Fund was ever signed for this rental event to be held at the Museum and no deposit was ever made.”
“We welcome Governor DeSantis and elected officials from across the spectrum to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage,” the museum noted.
This is not a free speech or censorship issue. The Tikvah Fund is trying to create a fight where none exists. This was simply a contractual and logistical decision. 2/3
— MuseumJewishHeritage (@MJHnews) May 6, 2022
We welcome Governor DeSantis and elected officials from across the spectrum to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust for a tour of our new exhibition, The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do, when it opens this summer. 3/3
— MuseumJewishHeritage (@MJHnews) May 6, 2022
Here’s a sampling of other responses to the initial story from Twitter:
@GovRonDeSantis: huge supporter of Israel.
AOC: not so much.
AOC welcomed to speak at NYC Museum of Jewish Heritage. Governor DeSantis banned from doing so.
Curious, isn’t it. https://t.co/JaHVhoAz50
— Lee Steinhauer (@GroupSteinhauer) May 5, 2022
“In order to be inclusive we need to be exclusive of some people” https://t.co/oeF6Vg3wcM
— Rising serpent 🇺🇸 (@rising_serpent) May 5, 2022
I’m old enough to remember when a museum dedicated to Jewish Heritage would welcome a visit by a sitting governor who supports Holocaust education, security at Jewish schools and fights Antisemitism. 🤔
— Joel M. Petlin (@Joelmpetlin) May 5, 2022
I am the granddaughter of an Auschwitz survivor (& an FL voter and huge @GovRonDeSantis fan) and I am ashamed at these people – my people – for falling for petty wokeness and party politics over freedom, intellectual curiosity, and Jewish unity. Shame on @MJHnews https://t.co/wG9S7wZCVs
— Old School Mama (@80sOldLady) May 5, 2022
Intolerance in pursuit of inclusivity is so on-its-face disturbing that I can’t even imagine it happening in America.
Yet, here we are.
— Mark Ashworth & the Wreckoning Bros Podcast (@marklarflash) May 5, 2022
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