Several Jewish groups are organizing a campaign to pressure The Jewish Museum of New York over a scheduled appearance by anti-Israel speaker Professor Judith Butler.
The March 6 event titled “Wish You Were Here: Franz Kafka” will feature several experts on 20th-century literature speaking on the works of Jewish existentialist author Franz Kafka.
But Butler, who is a professor of comparative literature and critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley, is an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies and a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Despite the event being non-political, critics contend that hosting someone who advocates against Israel at a museum that receives charitable contributions from the Jewish community crosses the line.
“The hosting of [BDS] advocate Judith Butler by The Jewish Museum is a slap in the face to every Jew,” Richard Allen, head of JCC Watch, told JNS.org.
This is not the first event involving Butler that has sparked controversy in the New York region. Last year, pro-Israel groups at Brooklyn College sought to pressure the school to drop Butler from an event there. Brooklyn College, however, held the event, citing academic freedom.
This time, Allen said JCC Watch plans to launch a public education campaign to hold The Jewish Museum’s board of directors responsible for using Jewish charitable dollars to promote Butler’s anti-Israel ideas.
Allen added, “We call on all New Yorkers to ‘close your wallets’ to any organization that promotes the boycott of Israel. All Jews need to stop funding The Jewish Museum and to call for the resignation of their board. The board of The Jewish Museum has shown poor leadership in managing Jewish charitable dollars.”
Joining JCC Watch’s efforts is the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA).
“We are joining JCC Watch and others protesting this latest betrayal of the Jewish people and Israel by a major Jewish establishment institution,” said NCJA leader Beth Gilinsky.
According to JCC Watch, a demonstration is scheduled outside The Jewish Museum on the night of the event.