Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Brooklyn Museum Craft Fair Sells Merch Calling for Eradication of Israel

The Brooklyn Museum hosted a fair on Sunday that promoted the sale of “River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” printed materials, an antisemitic slogan calling for the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel.

The same exhibitor at the Zine Fair also peddled another print item for sale that read, “From NYC to Gaza, globalize the intifada” and included an image of an NYPD vehicle on fire.

The museum, which is located on city-owned land, is the beneficiary of public funding and is near the headquarters of the international headquarters of the Hasidic Jewish Lubavitchers.

“It’s clearly hate speech. Everybody knows what ‘River to the Sea’ means. It means kill all the Jews and run Israel into the sea,” said Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a pro-Israel activist and a former longtime trustee on the governing board of the City University of New York.

The event was sponsored by a not-for-profit artists group called Printed Matter, Inc..

An offended attendee took snaps of the provocative items and posted them on social media. “On November 19th at the Brooklyn Museum’s Printed Matter zine fair, I was verbally assaulted for being Jewish,” said Meryl Fontek, a New York native and Tel Aviv-based writer and editor, who saw the offensive material and put them on her Instagram account.

“I took out my phone to take a picture of the posters being sold. As soon as I did, the woman behind the table jumped out of her chair, pulled the black covid mask off her face, pointed her finger at me and yelled, `You don’t belong here.’ It happened so fast. She ran out from behind the table and said “You can’t dox me. I’m getting the organizer to have you removed,’” Fontek recalled.

“Do I not belong because she could recognize discomfort in my face when I saw the prints? It seems like it’s a crime to photograph violent antisemitic imagery that calls for Jewish genocide but creating it is acceptable. By collaborating with Printed Matter and the artists they work with, the Brooklyn Museum has legitimized the dissemination and selling of hateful, antisemitic, dangerous literature. I won’t stay silent when there’s a call to murder Jews,” Fontek said.

The Brooklyn Museum immediately sought to distance itself from what it called the “antisemitic” material displayed at its facility, in a note on its website.

“Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding materials displayed at Printed Matter’s Sunday Zine Fair. The Museum has worked very hard to create a welcoming and inclusive space for all people, a space of real belonging, and we are sorry that’s not what everyone experienced,” it wrote.

“Any anti-Semitic views expressed did not represent the views and values of the Brooklyn Museum. We want to be clear that we condemn hate, intolerance, or violence of any kind and are appalled by both the growing anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, as well as the divisions that are gripping the world. As a public institution, we are giving care to reviewing our policies while remaining committed to freedom of artistic expression and striving to create spaces for all to see themselves and others with dignity,” the museum added.

A Brooklyn Museum spokesperson clarified on Thursday that the one-day fair was unrelated to its fanzine exhibition.

“The works in question were displayed by a vendor as part of a one-day zine fair hosted and organized by the artist publishing non-profit Printed Matter. The Brooklyn Museum was not involved in the selection of the content and these zines were not a part of our current exhibition, `Copy Machine Manifestos: Artists Who Make Zines,” spokesperson Lily Williams said.

“The anti-Semitic expressions included in the zines absolutely do not represent the views and values of the Brooklyn Museum. We condemn hate, intolerance, and violence of any kind and are appalled by the growing antisemitism, Islamophobia, and divisions that are gripping the world. We remain committed to creating a museum for all to see themselves and others with dignity,” the spokerserson, added.

The Brooklyn Museum has come under fire previously for promoting provocative art — notably a painting of the  “The Holy Virgin Mary ” splattered with elephant dung on the canvas in 1999, which triggered calls for a boycott from the Catholic League.

Wiesenfeld, for one, wasn’t buying the Brooklyn Museum’s explanation, pointing out that its curators vetted the exhibitors.

“You can’t hold a street fair in Forest Hills and sell guns,” he said.

“This print isn’t risque art. It’s hate speech calling for the extermination of Jews. The Brooklyn Museum has defined deviancy down,” he added.

Source: https://nypost.com/2023/11/22/metro/brooklyn-museum-zine-fair-sells-anti-israel-river-to-the-sea-merch/