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Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, one of five GOP city lawmakers, said in a statement on Sunday that she would be withholding a $5,000 donation she previously planned to give the Museum of Jewish Heritage after she claimed the museum barred the Republican governor from a speaking event.
“The Museum of Jewish Heritage, an institution that pledges to promote tolerance and inclusion, excludes Gov. Ron DeSantis from attending an event on their premises,” Vernikov said in a letter explaining her decision.
UNITED STATES -March 29: New York City Council member Inna Vernikov speaks a press conference on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 besides the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park Queens, News York. (Photo by Barry Williams for NY Daily News via Getty Images) (Photo by Barry Williams for NY Daily News via Getty Images)
“This move should send a strong message to the leadership of the museum: DO NOT politicize the Holocaust!” the councilwoman added in the letter. “Just teach it.”
Vernikov’s tweet came alongside an initial statement from former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who similarly condemned the museum.
“Shame on the Museum of Jewish Heritage for politicizing their institution by banning Gov. Ron DeSantis, a stellar gov & friend of Jews/Israel!” Hikind wrote with a Wall Street Journal op-ed initially claiming the museum banned DeSantis. “It’s divisive and only harms the museum!”
— Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (@InnaVernikov) May 5, 2022
He added: “I won’t visit again until the ban is rescinded and you shouldn’t either!”
The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. (Google Maps)
The money Councilwoman Vernikov, a Ukrainian-born American Jew, has decided to pull from the museum is part of $700,000 in city funds she is allotted to give out to New York City organizations in the 2023 fiscal year, the New York Post reported.
Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Tristan Wheelock/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Museum of Jewish Heritage released a statement disputing the alleged ban, saying the WSJ op-ed contained “many factual inaccuracies, including fictionalized quotes.”
“No one was banned or canceled,” the museum wrote.
— MuseumJewishHeritage (@MJHnews) May 6, 2022
It went on to say it was never a “free speech or censorship issue,” and that it was “simply a contractual and logistical decision.” The museum welcomed Governor DeSantis and other elected officials from across the political spectrum to visit.