Pressure works – in New York

Queens Museum accepts deal after backlash from UN ambassador

Facing an uproar over its decision to renege on a deal to rent out the city-owned Queens Museum building for a celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary, the institution on Wednesday said it will allow the event to proceed.

Danny Danon, Israel’s UN ambassador, said the Israeli Mission had reached a deal with the museum in June for the Nov. 29 event and all was fine until it became public.

He said the same museum official who approved the rental then unexpectedly noted that “Palestinian friends of the museum” expressed concern.

On Monday, museum Director Laura Raicovich had notified the Israelis that she was yanking the deal because the museum board didn’t want to host a “political event,” Danon said.

He noted that Raicovich is the co-editor of a book on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that includes essays supporting the boycott of Israel, and suggested it played a role in the museum’s decision.

“We will not accept this blatant discrimination against the State of Israel and we will not let this decision stand,” said Danon, demanding Raicovich’s ouster.

“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,” he added.

After Danon and elected officials publicly criticized the museum, officials there said they were reconsidering the decision, given that its building was the UN’s headquarters when Israel was founded in 1947.

Hours later, Danon issued a statement saying the celebration is back on track.

“We welcome this step by the Museum to rectify their earlier unfortunate decision. Any attempt to discriminate against Israel is completely unacceptable and we will continue to fight against such injustices.”

The museum had come under intense pressure to abide by its original deal.

“The canceling of this event on the grounds that it is ‘political’ is beyond outrageous,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn).

“This event commemorates a historical event, not a political one. The only thing that’s political is the canceling of the event, which is nothing less than a cultural boycott.”

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