Museum of Jewish Heritage spikes panel on John Judis’s book as too controversial

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John Judis

John Judis

The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York has spiked a planned appearance by John Judis, author of the groundbreaking new history of Truman and the establishment of Israel, as too controversial.

I’m told that Judis had agreed on a date, June 1, with the programming director of the museum, Gabriel Sanders, and that Sanders went about lining up other speakers to appear with Judis on a panel about his book. Then Sanders abruptly got back to Judis and said the subject had been deemed too hot by the powers-that-be at the museum, they feared there would be protests of the event.

I reached out to Betsy Aldredge, who does publicity for the museum. She said,

“I looked into the situation and here is our comment: We were interested in the book. We considered it, but were concerned that the controversy would overshadow the content. Therefore, we decided not to move forward with the event.”

The controversy? Jeffrey Goldberg doesn’t like the book. Neither does the Wall Street Journal. Is that a controversy? If the book is worthy of discussion, why worry about a controversy?

The book says that Truman personally opposed the partition of Palestine in 1947 because he did not believe in establishing nations that failed to separate church and state, but his arm was twisted by the Zionist lobby in the U.S. and he caved on his principles out of political concern.

Judis is a highly-respected journalist in his 60s with a reputation for sobriety and discretion. He identifies himself with an American Reform Jewish tradition and says that he is for a two-state solution. He has long worked for The New Republic, a magazine that has historically been supportive of Israel, and that ran an excerpt of his book.

(Ah, open debate in the American Jewish community. Seven million Jews, one opinion permitted.)


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