The Mistakes of the Center for Jewish History
The New York-based Center for Jewish History (CJH) remains embroiled in controversy, due to the revelation that its new CEO — David N. Myers — has been linked to the New Israel Fund, IfNotNow, J Street and other groups that promote anti-Israel policies.
Myers’ writings also reveal hostile-to-Israel viewpoints, including support for boycotts of Israeli goods from Judea and Samaria, and sympathy for the Palestinian “Nakba” narrative.
Despite these facts, the Center for Jewish History has defended Mr. Myers, and insisted that he will remain in place. And now, we believe that facts show that CJH has been infiltrated by the Anti-Zionist organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).
This week, some forward progress was made.
After relentless pressure, the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) has agreed to cancel two events planned with JVP — which were to be hosted at the Center for Jewish History. It should also be noted that Rachel Lithgow, the Executive Director of the American Jewish Historical Society, is a former student — and “close friend” — of Mr. Myers.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, JVP is “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States. Despite the neutral tone of its name, JVP works to demonstrate Jewish opposition to the State of Israel and to steer public support away from the Jewish State.”
On December 14, AJHS was planning to offer JVP members reduced admission to a play entitled Rubble Rubble, by Dan Fishback, a JVP leader.
Fishback supports some boycotts of Israel, and has previously urged that certain plays sponsored by the Israeli government be boycotted. He’s openly Anti-Zionist, and falsely claims that Israel “seeks to systematically destroy Palestinian culture based on the identity of artists and the content of work.”
Fishback also believes in a full liberation of Palestine. In a candidacy note for JVP leadership, he stated:
…the only way to liberate Palestine is to liberate world Jewry from our pain, which is why I believe in organizing from a Jewish perspective, even as I look to Palestinian organizers for essential leadership, nuance and insight.
In a 2016 op-ed, Fishback explained that he struggles with Israel’s right to exist, noting that, “there is something fundamentally wrong with any state that privileges one ethno-religious group over another.” He also describes Israel as a “supremacist state.”
Fishback claims that “[a] major part of Israel’s strategy to maintain its unjust regime is to normalize and glamorize Israeli life, reinforcing the notion that a Jewish supremacist state is normal, natural, fun and interesting.” He repeatedly describes Israel as an “apartheid state.”
Fishback also writes that “…anti-Zionist Jews have been effectively blacklisted from the mainstream Jewish world, through official institutional bans as well as informal shunning in families and social groups. With anti-Zionist Jews so ostracized, we are less capable of engaging with other Jews and explaining our movements, our allies and our perspectives.”
Jewish Voice for Peace, Mr. Fishback, David N. Myers and the American Jewish Historical Society have the right to their opinions.
But the Center for Jewish History is allowing their venerable institution to be used to legitimize pro-boycott, anti-Israel positions; this must end. This is not a matter of right vs. left; this is a matter of right vs. wrong. David N. Myers must be fired as the head of the Center for Jewish History.
Hank Sheinkopf, CEO of Sheinkopf Communications, is a leading political strategist who has worked on campaigns in four continents, and whose clients have included former President Bill Clinton. Ronn Torossian is CEO of one of America’s largest privately held PR firms. George Birnbaum is a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.