NYC councilmember pulls $5K in funding after Holocaust museum allegedly bans DeSantis from speaking

"As a staunchly pro-Israel, Ukrainian-born American Jew who devotes much time to fighting anti-Semitism, it greatly saddens me to see this museum’s leadership act so cowardly."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

A New York City Councilwoman announced Sunday she is pulling $5,000 in previously planned funding for a Holocaust museum, after it allegedly banned Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis from speaking.

Councilwoman Inna Vernikov announced in an open letter to museum donors that she will no longer allocate the money, which was a portion of $700,000 in city funds for organizations in the 2023 fiscal year, to the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Vernikov, one of five Republican councilmembers, wrote in a letter, "I was happy to contribute some of my discretionary funding to The Museum of Jewish Heritage for the great work they do. I am now pulling that funding and I am asking you to do the same."

She added, "This move should send a strong message to the leadership of the museum: DO NOT politicize the Holocaust! Just teach it."

In her letter, Vernikov, a Ukrainian-born American Jew, said she "would’ve never imagined … in my wildest dreams" removing "funding from a museum that educates the world about the atrocities of the Holocaust."

She continued, "As a staunchly pro-Israel, Ukrainian-born American Jew who devotes much time to fighting anti-Semitism, it greatly saddens me to see this museum’s leadership act so cowardly."

Vernikov’s announcement came after the museum allegedly told the leaders of the philanthropic Tikvah Fund, that their Jewish Leadership Conference would be canceled unless they disinvited Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis is an active supporter of Israel and many Jewish causes

Eric Cohen CEO of the Tikvah Fund told The New York Post that in response the organization moved the event to Pier 60.

Following a scathing op-ed in The Wall Street Journal written by Cohen and Elliott Abrams, chairman of the organization, the Museum of Jewish Heritage denied that it had opted not to rent its space to the Tikvah Fund if DeSantis appeared.

The museum posted on Twitter. "No one was banned or canceled. The fact is that 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."

The museum added, "This is not a free speech or censorship issue. This was simply a contractual and logistical decision," which doesn’t actually contradict what organizers of The Tikvah Fund's event are alleging.

In response to the museum’s denial Vernikov tweeted, "Not buying this. There are multiple reports indicating staff was against this.Will you allow @RonDeSantisFLto speak at @MJHnews? If you’re committed to welcoming 'elected officials from all spectrums,' invite him to address an audience. I’ll be glad to arrange."

At the conference titled Jews, Israel, and the Future of the West, the Tikvah Fund was also scheduled to host former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and former New York Times writer Bari Weiss.

According to the group's website, DeSantis’ speech is titled The Florida Model — And Why it’s Good for the Jews.

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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