Queens Museum reverses its decision, will hold celebration of Israel’s independence after all

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Officials at the Queens Museum are moving forward with plans to hold a celebration of the State of Israel’s 70th anniversary after facing a backlash from local elected officials for initially canceling it.

Executive members of the Queens Museum met on Aug. 16 with Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon after facing strong criticism earlier in the day for canceling the rental booking. The event  which will reenact the U.N. vote that partitioned Palestine, allowing for the creation of Israel  was booked in June and is slated to take place on Nov. 29. It will happen in the main gallery of the museum, which hosted the U.N. General Assembly at the time of the 1947 decision.

“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,” Queens Museum Board of Trustees Chair Mark Coleman said in a statement.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Danon welcomed the institution’s reversal.

“We welcome this step by the Queens Museum to rectify their earlier unfortunate decision,” he wrote. “Any attempt to discriminate against Israel is completely unacceptable and we will continue to fight against such injustices. We look forward to proudly celebrating this historic U.N. decision. Thank you to all our friends in the pro-Israel community for standing by our side.”

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz also spoke out in support of the Israeli independence celebration.

“Pleased that the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations 70th anniversary commemoration will now rightfully proceed at Queens Museum, in the very halls that hosted the historic 1947 vote and creation of the state of Israel,” she said in a Facebook post.

The Queens Museum’s original decision faced sharp criticism from Queens lawmakers yesterday. In a joint statement, Councilman Rory Lancman and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz slammed the cancellation as “a clear example of anti-Semitism” and “a disgrace and a violation of law.” They also called for the immediate removal of Executive Director Laura Raicovich, who was reported to have canceled the rental booking on the grounds that it was a “political event,” from her position.

Congresswoman Grace Meng also spoke out yesterday, calling the museum’s decision “puzzling” and “bizarre.”

Following the reversal announcement late on Wednesday night, City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said the two parties coming to terms was made even more important by the recent events in Charlottesville, VA.

“This is no doubt the right thing to do. What we’ve watched across the country over the past few days — neo-Nazis marching in the streets of America promoting symbols of hate — has been a shock,” he said. “By reversing course and holding this important event, the museum is fixing what had been a mistake and correcting what was a terrible message to send to communities across the five boroughs. I’m pleased this event will proceed.”

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