Seattle museum staff walks out over 'platforming colonial, white supremacist perspectives' in exhibit organized by black, Asian, Jewish groups

"It sets a dangerous precedent of platforming colonial, white supremacist perspectives and goes against the Museum’s mission as a community-based museum advancing racial and social equity."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Over 2 dozen employees at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle walked off the job Wednesday following the opening of the museum’s “Confronting Hate Together,” about racism faced by the Asian, black, and Jewish communities. The museum has been closed since the walkout of half the staff.

The exhibit, originally scheduled to run through June 30, compares racism and hate faced by the Asian, black, and Jewish communities historically and in Seattle and was a project in the making for over a year. The Wing Luke Museum, the Black Heritage Society of Washington State and the Washington State Jewish Historical Society had all been working together to plan and launch the exhibit.

It was based on the New York Historical Society’s 2022 exhibit “Confronting Hate” and augmented based on rising hate crimes in Washington and was in the works well before Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023 attack on Israel.

The boycott focused on a panel in the exhibit which showed the Herzl Ner Tamid Synagogue on Mercer Island after it had been vandalized by anti-Israel activists. The panel from the Jewish Historical Society read, “Today, antisemitism is often disguised as anti-Zionism.”

The panel noted how the phrase which was spray painted on the synagogue, “Stop the killing," was in spririt to the idea that “the Jews of Mercer Island could control the actions of the Israeli government.”

The panel also stated, “On university campuses, pro-Palestinian groups have voiced support for Hamas (which is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government) and a Palestinian state stretching ‘from the river to the sea,’ a phrase defined by the erasure of Israel.”

The anti-Israel activists posted their demands to a recently created Instagram account called wlm4palestine on Thursday. They have demanded that the museum remove any language that attempts to frame “anti-Zionism as antisemitism." They also insist on a “community review” of the exhibit, for the museum to “acknowledge the limited perspectives presented in this exhibition,” and focus on “voices that align with the museum’s mission & values,” meaning those of the Palestinian, Muslim and Arab communities.

The activist staff also compared the Asian, black, and Jewish groups that created the exhibit to white supremacists claiming that their lives as Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islanders are part of the Palestinian experience. “It sets a dangerous precedent of platforming colonial, white supremacist perspectives and goes against the Museum’s mission as a community-based museum advancing racial and social equity," they wrote on Instagram.

Activists have begun fundraising for lost wages for the antisemitic staff that stormed off the job in protest.

">The Black Heritage Society of Washington State (BHS), Washington State Jewish Historical Society (WSJHS), and Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (WLM) came together in early 2023," The Washington State Jewish Historical Society said in a statement obtained by The Post Millennial. "We joined together around similar missions, focused on our communities which were historically redlined. We have sought to build enduring relationships and stand together, including through the creation of this groundbreaking multi-community project, Confronting Hate Together. We have learned that we need to hear each others’ stories and strive toward a world where hate cannot take root. This can only be done together."

"This exhibit is and always has been about addressing hate at home in our Puget Sound Region, featuring local voices and lived experiences. Anti-Black hate, anti-Asian hate, and anti-Jewish hate are all on the rise."

The statement noted, "Just like any other marginalized group, the Jewish community should be allowed to name harm directed against us and share our lived experiences. The exhibit accurately portrays the local Jewish experience of antisemitism. This includes a 192% increase in 2023 in incidents of anti-Jewish harm in Washington state, many of which were perpetrated after October 7th. For example, in November, “Stop the killing,” was spray painted on Herzl Ner Tamid Synagogue, as if the Jews of Mercer Island could control the actions of a foreign government."

"Events of this past week have only reinforced the importance of our partnerships with the Black Heritage Society and Wing Luke Museum and our desire to bring this exhibit to the community. We will continue to lean into nuance and understanding and work together to create a beloved community and ensure the Confronting Hate Together exhibit opens. There is so much more that unites than divides us. We highly encourage you to look at the exhibit online or view it in person at the Wing Luke Museum next week."
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