Queens Mu­seum Does “About Face” on Re­fusal of Is­raeli Mis­sion’s UN Event

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Ilana Siyance

The Queens Mu­seum in Corona has re­con­sid­ered its re­fusal to rent out space to the Is­raeli Mis­sion, for an event hon­or­ing the UN’s recog­ni­tion of an Is­raeli state. In this Flush­ing lo­cal­ity, be­fore it was a mu­seum, 70 years ago, the United Na­tions met to rec­og­nize Is­rael as a Jewish state.

In June, the mu­seum agreed to re­serve the hall for the reen­act­ment event. Then the mu­seum’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Laura Raicovich, told the group that the mu­seum de­cided not to host the “po­lit­i­cal event” due to mu­seum pol­icy. The Mis­sion had blamed the re­fusal on Raicovich’s con­nec­tion to the Boy­cott, Di­vest and Sanc­tions move­ment that tar­gets Is­rael. Raicovich edited a book en­ti­tled "As­sum­ing Boy­cott: Re­sis­tance, Agency and Cul­tural Pro­duc­tion," which in­cludes a sec­tion on the BDS move­ment.

"It is un­ac­cept­able for BDS ac­tivists to sin­gle out Is­rael and ban our event,” said Danny Danon, Is­rael’s am­bas­sador to the UN. “I call on the Board of Direc­tors of the Queens Mu­seum to dis­miss Ms. Raicovich from her po­si­tion im­me­di­ately and honor their com­mit­ment to hold this im­por­tant event.”

In a joint state­ment, As­sem­bly­man Michael Si­manowitz (D-Queens) and Coun­cil­man Rory Lanc­man (D-Queens) said the mu­seum’s ac­tions were “a dis­grace and a violation of law.” “It is a clear ex­am­ple of anti-Semitism, and we will not stand for it. We de­mand the Queens Mu­seum board re­in­state this im­por­tant cer­e­mony,” they con­tin­ued. They called for the city’s Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate, and for the Queens mu­seum to fire Raicovich. Con­troller Scott Stringer also spoke up com­ment­ing that the reen­act­ment should take place where the vote did. "At a time when we lit­er­ally have neo-Nazis march­ing in Amer­i­can streets, when big­otry is on the rise, the Queens Mu­seum has sent a dis­ap­point­ing mes­sage to New York City and the world,” he said.

Last Wed­nes­day, the Queens Mu­seum an­nounced that it will now pro­ceed with an event com­mem­o­rat­ing the 1947 UN vote. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port on the Politico web site, Vy­oma Venkatata­man, a spokes­woman for the mu­seum had con­firmed that it had re­con­sid­ered its po­si­tion.

"Per­son­ally, I do not see how this pro­ject is ‘po­lit­i­cal.’ How is com­mem­o­rat­ing a ma­jor world event that took place in Queens and the UN’s es­tab­lish­ment of one of Amer­ica’s clos­est al­lies po­lit­i­cal?”

"Af­ter a pro­duc­tive con­ver- sa­tion with Is­rael’s Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Danny Danon, the Queens Mu­seum will work with the Is­raeli Mis­sion on the pro­posed com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 1947 vote," Venkatara­man said by email. "We are deeply com­mit­ted to all the com­mu­ni­ties we serve through our mean­ing­ful arts pro­gram­ming and we are look­ing for­ward to mak­ing this a suc­cess­ful event."

Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) also crit­i­cized the Queens Mu­seum’s de­ci­sion to can­cel the event ear­lier on Wed­nes­day.

"Per­son­ally, I do not see how this pro­ject is ‘po­lit­i­cal.’ How is com­mem­o­rat­ing a ma­jor world event that took place in Queens and the UN’s es­tab­lish­ment of one of Amer­ica’s clos­est al­lies po­lit­i­cal?” said Meng, who added, "The mu­seum and Is­raeli Mis­sion al­ready agreed to this reen­act­ment of the UN vote, and plan­ning for it was well un­der­way be­fore the mu­seum back­tracked.”

"The mu­seum should re­verse its de­ci­sion and al­low the event to take place as sched­uled."

The Queens Mu­seum in Corona has re­con­sid­ered its re­fusal to rent out space to the Is­raeli Mis­sion, for an event hon­or­ing the UN’s recog­ni­tion of an Is­raeli state. In this Flush­ing lo­cal­ity, be­fore it was a mu­seum, 70 years ago, the United Na­tions met to rec­og­nize Is­rael as a Jewish state.

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