A local lawmaker announced on Sunday that she was taking $5,000 in previously earmarked funding for a Manhattan museum after she allegedly barred Florida Governor Ron DeSantis from speaking there in June.
Counselor Inna Vernikov — a Ukrainian-American Jew — revealed in an open letter to museum donors that she would no longer donate money to the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The pulp is part of $700,000 in city funds it is expected to distribute to Big Apple organizations in fiscal year 2023.
“I was happy to contribute some of my discretionary funding to the Museum of Jewish Heritage for the great work they do,” Vernikov (R- Southern Brooklyn) written in a letter dated Sunday. “I am now withdrawing this funding and asking you to do the same.
“This decision should send a strong message to museum management: DO NOT politicize the Holocaust!” added Vernikov, one of the city’s five GOP lawmakers. “Just teach it.”
The move came after leaders of the Tikvah philanthropic fund — Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush and executive director Eric Cohen — told the Post that brass at the museum advised them either to disinvite DeSantis from hosting the Leadership Conference at the Battery Park City venue or move the event.
Cohen previously told the Post that the organization’s leaders were shocked by the ultimatum and instead chose to move the event to Pier 60.
In response, the Museum of Jewish Heritage denied choosing not to rent its space for the Tikvah Fund event if DeSantis appeared.
“No one has been banned or cancelled,” said the museum wrote on Twitter. “The fact is that no contract with the Tikvah Fund was ever signed for this rental event to be held at the Museum and no deposit was ever made.
“It is not a question of freedom of expression or censorship,” added the institution. “It was simply a contractual and logistical decision.”
In her one-page letter, Vernikov said she “never imagined…in my wildest dreams” to withdraw “funding from a museum that educates the world about the atrocities of the Holocaust.”
“As a staunchly pro-Israel Ukrainian-American Jew who devotes a lot of time to the fight against anti-Semitism, it saddens me greatly to see the leaders of this museum act so cowardly,” she fumed. .
The Museum of Jewish Heritage had no immediate comment on the letter.
Titled “Jews, Israel, and the Future of the West,” the Tikvah conference is also expected to feature former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and former writer of the New York Times Bari Weiss, according to the website.
DeSantis’ speech is titled “The Florida Model – And Why It’s Good for Jews,” the site says.
The Florida Republican – who became the Sunshine State’s chief executive in 2019 after serving in Congress for six years – has recently emerged as a controversial high-profile national figure.
DeSantis has come into the limelight for his support of the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill that bans discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation for children in kindergarten through third year and ending the Walt Disney Company’s longstanding special tax. status with the state after publicly tearing up the Education Act.
Additional reporting by Sam Raskin