History shows us that forced conformity never ends well for Jews, but liberal Jewish institutions keep wanting to give it another go.
In a Wall Street Journal piece, Elliott Abrams and Eric Cohen, respectively chairman and CEO of Tikvah and co-chairmen of the Jewish Leadership Conference, reveal that Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage canceled a planned JLC event because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was an invited speaker.
Write Abrams and Cohen: “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 museum gingerly pushed back. On his Twitter account, he said this wasn’t a “free speech or censorship issue” but “simply a contractual and logistical decision,” which doesn’t actually contradict what Abrams and Cohen are alleging.
Yes, the museum made the “contractual and logistical decision” to deny rental space to Tikvah, an organization that has hosted many events at the museum, because DeSantis was to be a speaker. It’s not a “free speech or censorship issue” since that implies the government is stopping the speech, and that is clearly not happening here.
Thinking it’s smarter than everyone else, the museum added a carefully worded tweet saying, “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.”
So it won’t block the door if DeSantis buys a ticket for a tour, but no one is welcome to host the governor for an event at the museum. Got it.
Abrams and Cohen write that they chose DeSantis because a “remarkable Jewish renaissance is under way in Florida.”
It is. Our family is part of that renaissance. We moved from New York to Florida in January in large part because of the governor’s leadership. COVID policies were at the forefront of our decision, but DeSantis fighting woke nonsense in schools and putting parental rights at the top of his agenda have also been positive.
And our governor takes the safety and security of Jews in his state very seriously.
In 2019, I wrote in these pages again and again and again that Jews were being assaulted in New York and our elected officials barely mentioned it. Then-Mayor Bill de Blasio kept blaming imaginary Donald Trump supporters, who apparently exist in far larger numbers in New York City than anyone had ever known. Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo would also offer lip service after every attack. Both men, however, enjoyed ratcheting up the rhetoric against Jews when they blamed the Jewish community for COVID spread in 2020.
But my governor simply does not play when it comes to the safety of Jews in his state. Last June, legislation assigning millions of dollars in funding for various Holocaust memorials included, he noted, “$4 million in security funding for Florida’s Jewish Day Schools, including for the first time ever funding for professional security.”
DeSantis said, “I’m proud to sign these bills today to help protect religious freedom in Florida and increase the safety and security of our Jewish communities. I will continue to make sure that in Florida we root out anti-Semitism and that every day we show our support for Israel and our Jewish communities.”
Meanwhile, the museum allowed a 2018 event with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about a month after she was famously forced to dial back her support for a two-state solution in Israel as leftist thought does not allow for Israel’s existence at all. Does that “align with the museum’s values”? Is this the ideology we must all be forced to adhere to before renting space at the museum?
When a Jewish museum bars DeSantis for having the wrong opinions, they bar me and so many other Jews, conservative or otherwise, too. We know that if he is unwelcome, we are also unwelcome.
“What Hate Can Do” is driving Americans apart. Anyone still funding the Museum of Jewish Heritage should think long and hard about whether that’s something worth supporting.