The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City museum allegedly told the leaders of the Jewish Leadership Conference they would cancel their event unless they disinvited Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis, a vigorous supporter of Israel and many Jewish causes
Elliott Abrams is the chairman or the organization and he along with Eric Cohen CEO of the Tikvah Fund which operates the Jewish Leadership Conference. The annual event celebrates the Jewish people and Israel. This years’ event was scheduled to be held at the museum on June 12 and feature DeSantis as a speaker.
Abrams and Cohen wrote in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, "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."
Abrams and Cohen continued, "We were working closely with the museum on the details for the June 12 event—until, out of the blue, we were told by the museum staff that Mr. DeSantis didn’t 'align with the museum’s values and its message of inclusivity.' Either we disinvite the governor, they said, or our event was unwelcome."
The pair added, "Throughout the modern age, Jews have suffered the consequences of this kind of intolerance," noting antisemitism on college campuses, from the BDS, or boycott, divest and sanctions movement, and the UN, "with its odious anti-Israel Human Rights Council and with Amnesty International’s 'apartheid state' calumny."
"But 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."
"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."
The authors noted, "Not surprisingly, this was false. 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… The museum has hosted other politicians, including then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and then-Mayor Bill de Blasio."
The authors also stated that the museum hosted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, in April. Thomas-Greenfield recently described America as "a society plagued by white supremacy and lauded America’s re-entry into the anti-Israel Human Rights Commission."
Abrams and Cohen concluded by stating, "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."
The Governor's office issued a statement to local media outlets which read, "Governor DeSantis has always been a steadfast friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel."
It also praised the editorial by Abrams and Cohen and noted the "remarkable Jewish renaissance" happening in Florida under his leadership. The statement added, "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 has been a great ally to the Jewish communities in Florida and the state of Israel. DeSantis signed a measure banning anti-Semitic speech in Florida’s public schools and universities in May of 2019.
In July 2021, DeSantis asked the State Board of Administration to place Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever on the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List and to initiate the process to place both companies on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List after the company pulled their franchise agreement from stores in Israel.
That same year DeSantis allocated $4 million in the state budget for additional security for Jewish day schools.
Jews have been migrating to the Sunshine state from the Northeast and Midwest, as well as Latin America, causing Jewish schools and synagogues to expand rapidly. Florida’s low-tax economy attracts many young Jewish families. The state's educational system provides tax credits which are helpful to parents in sending their children to Jewish day schools.
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