A New York City councilwoman is stirring up a bit of a controversy by her decision to cancel her donation to a Jewish museum.
The reason? She says the museum snubbed Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida—and no one snubs Ron and gets away with it.
Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who is herself a Ukrainian-born Jew, is one of only five Republican lawmakers in the city—a shockingly low number that undoubtedly explains many of the city’s problems. And according to the New York Post, on Sunday she issued a statement in which she explained that she would be withholding a $5,000 donation that she had intended to give to the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This comes from a sizable pot of $700,000 in city funds that she is allowed to disburse to organizations in New York City during the 2023 fiscal year.
Vernikov alleges that the museum had banned the Florida governor from speaking at an event hosted on its grounds, and cites that as the reason she is now canceling her donation, though the museum has pushed back on the “factual inaccuracies” in initial reports.
“The Museum of Jewish Heritage,” Vernikov wrote in a tweet, “an institution that pledges to promote tolerance and inclusion, excludes Gov. Ron DeSantis from attending an event on their premises.”
The Museum of Jewish Heritage, an institution that pledges to promote tolerance and inclusion, excludes @GovRonDeSantis from attending an event on their premises.
— Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (@InnaVernikov) May 5, 2022
In a letter that Vernikov and New York City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli sent to the Museum, Vernikov explains her unhappiness with the museum’s decision.
“I write to express my disappointment with the latest news about the exclusion of Governor Ron DeSantis from an event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in furtherance of promoting a ‘message of inclusivity.’ As a museum devoted to teaching the world about the horrors of the Holocaust, MJH is an institution with a deep understanding of the dangers of political censorship…In modern day America, we have seen attempts to ‘cancel’ political speech, in a way that is reminiscent of Nazi and Soviet Era censorship.”
“I was proud to be involved in efforts to fund the Museum of Jewish Heritage as a member of the Jewish Caucus,” Vernikov continued in the letter, “as well as allocate funds from my discretionary funding pot. I’m afraid that should the Museum continue in this direction, I will not in good conscience be able to financially support it. I will also discourage others from doing so.”
Vernikov isn’t alone among New York politicians to condemn the Museum’s actions. Dov Hikind, a former New York Assemblyman, also chastised the Museum. Hikind tweeted the original Wall Street Journal op-ed claiming that the Museum banned Florida’s governor, and wrote: “Shame on the Museum of Jewish Heritage for politicizing their institution by banning Gov. Ron DeSantis, a stellar gov & friend of Jews/Israel! It’s divisive and only harms the museum! I won’t visit again until the ban is rescinded and you shouldn’t either!”
The whole problem started when the Museum allegedly informed the leaders of the philanthropic Tikvah Fund that they must either disinvite Gov. Ron DeSantis from the annual Jewish Leadership Conference or relocate the event altogether.
But the Museum of Jewish Heritage says there was no ban, and disputes much of what was written in the Wall Street Journal piece.
“No one was banned or canceled,” the Museum wrote in the tweet, citing “many factual inaccuracies, including fictionalized quotes,” in the original story. The Museum then went on to welcome Governor DeSantis, as well as politicians from across the political spectrum, to visit the Museum.
— MuseumJewishHeritage (@MJHnews) May 6, 2022
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