Queens Museum reinstates Israeli UN event following outcry over cancellation

NEW YORK (JTA) – The Queens Museum will host an event commemorating the United Nations decision to establish a Jewish state, reversing a decision to cancel it.

The museum, run by the New York City borough of Queens, is housed in the same building where the General Assembly vote partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states took place on Nov. 29, 1947. Israel’s mission to the United Nations reserved space in June to mark the event’s 70th anniversary and invited senior UN dignitaries.

But on Wednesday, the Israeli mission announced that the museum had cancelled the event due to political sensitivities and pressure from Palestinian supporters. The mission’s statement noted that the museum’s director, Laura Raicovich, edited a collection of essays that included a call for BDS – or boycott, divestment and sanctions – against Israel.

Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon slammed the decision and called for Raicovich to be fired.

“We will not accept this blatant discrimination against the State of Israel and we will not let this decision stand,” Danon said in a statement. “Celebrating the momentous decision of the UN recognizing the right to a Jewish state in our homeland is not a political event, but rather an expression of the historical and legal rights of our people.”

The cancellation drew quick condemnation from B’nai B’rith International, as well as Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who represents Queens in Congress.

“The decision by the Queens Museum is puzzling and it’s bizarre that such an outstanding facility in our borough would pull the plug on a project to celebrate not just the establishment of Israel, but a key piece of Queens history,” Meng said Wednesday in a statement. “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?”

Later Wednesday, the Israeli mission announced that the event would be happening after all. The museum told JTA in a statement that it reinstated the event after a “productive conversation” with Danon.

“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,” the statement said.

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