The Queens Museum of Art came under fire this week after rescinding an agreement to host a 70th-anniversary reenactment this November of the vote in the United Nations to establish Israel as an independent state, citing opposition from “Palestinian friends of the museum.”
Laura Raicovich, president and executive director of the museum, had previously edited a book of essays that included a piece praising the movement to boycott Israel known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions).
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and several Queens elected officials—Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Councilman Rory Lancman—have called on the museum to uphold its original agreement to host the event and remove Raicovich from her position.
Although part of the museum’s mission is to avoid events that are deemed political by nature, some members of the institution’s board have clearly wrongfully deemed this event as such. The state of Israel was created in the wake of World War II, during which approximately six million Jews were exterminated by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party.
This week, hatred again reared its ugly head on our shores after white supremacists and neo-Nazis held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the deaths of three people. President Donald Trump shockingly walked back a denouncement he had made of the incident, claiming that “both sides” were responsible for the violence in Virginia. That the president could insist that there were “fine people” on both sides of the protests when one of those sides was populated with members of the KKK and people carrying swastikas proves that he is unfit to lead this country.
Here in Queens, known as the “world’s borough,” we celebrate our diversity. This is why we can’t wrap our heads around the Queens Museum’s decision to cancel an event celebrating the historic vote that established Israel as an independent state. It’s an outrage. We call upon members of the museum’s board to reverse the decision and, if they don’t, private corporations that support the museum should withhold future financial support for the institution. We ask our readers to contact each member of the board to demand that it reverse this decision and call for the immediate resignation of its executive director.