The Center for  Jewish History CEO and Jewish Voices for Peace
The Center for Jewish History CEO and Jewish Voices for Peace

Co-authors:Hank Sheinkopf,and George Birnbaum

Since revealing on these pages the viewpoints of David N. Myers, the new CEO of The Center for Jewish History, based in New York, we have been inundated with information. 

Not only is Mr. Myers a leader of If Not Now When, J Street & New Israel Fund, Myers is also an Academic Advisory Board Member for Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) which the Anti-Defamation League has named one of the ten most influential and active Anti-Israel organizations.  Myers condemned a report issued by UC Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion about Jewish students coming under siege on campus by Anti-Israel forces, claiming rather in an open letter that the  ADL was a “well-known rightwing group”, which “..has become known for accusing critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic and denouncing Palestinian rights supporters, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.” 

The incoming head of “…the biggest repository of Jewish history in the United States is part of an organization that opposed efforts to adopt the State Department definition of anti-Semitism.  Jewish Voices for Peace today feature in the media urging “young Jews not to take part in Birthright Israel trips.”  He may be a great historian, but the fact that David Myers is actively involved in leadership positions with these organizations should preclude him from holding any communal Jewish leadership position. 

It goes on - Myers made a December 2016 fundraising appeal for If Not Now When – a radical activist organization which according to Haaretz holds “…sit-ins in the lobbies of buildings housing Jewish groups” to protest their not loud enough condemnation of Israel’s West Bank “occupation.” Their members have been arrested while holding sit-ins at the Hillel International, AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federation, and they refuse to meet with those Jewish leaders as they claim there’s nothing to dialogue about.

Simone Zimmerman, the founder of If Not Now was fired by Bernie Sanders during his Presidential campaign for posting a profanity-laced rant on Facebook“Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole. F— you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you legitimately represent even a fraction of the Jews in this world, for your consistent fear-mongering, for pushing Israel in word and deed, farther and farther away from the international community, and most importantly, for trying to derail a potentially historic diplomatic deal with Iran and thus trying to distract the world from the fact that you sanctioned the murder of over 2,000 people this summer.” Myers responded with an impassioned defense of Ms. Zimmerman, detailing her as “the future of American Jewry”, a “beneficiary of the best Jewish education our community offers” someone with a “deep and abiding connection to Judaism and Israel.”

If Not Now When is the future of American Jewry?  Opposing organizations that oppose the entire the spectrum of mainstream American Jewry, including ADL, AIPAC, Hillel and more is the choice of  The Center for Jewish History which encompasses the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardic Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, YIVO and the Yeshiva University Museum?

As Harvard professor Ruth Wisse said “the rapid demoralization of Jews in the face of anti-Zionism… shows the depth of the influence of the past, for many have yet to achieve the simple self-respect that has been eluding the Jews collectively since the dawn of modernity.”

Aside from the unsuitability of someone heading a central Jewish organization and being active in the  above extremist associations, there is the fact that it is only natural that they cloud his views.  Would a hunting meat lover be named head of PETA? Would someone who can't stand baseball be named the head of Major League Baseball? Standing with anti-Zionists at Jewish Voices for Peace and If Not Now When clearly makes one unsuitable to head a Jewish institution with the longterm and widespread influence 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. His clients have included former president Bill Clinton. Ronn Torossian is CEO of one of America’s largest privately held Public Relations firms, and the award-winning author of “For Immediate Release.”George Birnbaum is a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Arutz Sheva adds:

Jewish Studies Activists Network has responded with a campaign of their own, in which the abovenamed  pro-Israel and Zionist writers are termed "vigilantes." This is the accompanying letter to their request for signatures in support of Myers, as received by Arutz Sheva:

"We, the undersigned, are all scholars in the field of Jewish Studies. We write in unwavering support of David N. Myers, who has recently assumed the position of CEO/President of the Center for Jewish History in New York City. A small group of self-appointed vigilantes has mounted a scurrilous campaign demanding Myers’ ouster, claiming without any basis, that he holds anti-Israel views. These detractors are engaging in the worst kind of McCarthyism.

"David Myers is a distinguished historian of Jewish civilization, with a stellar reputation of academic leadership in North America, Israel, and throughout the world. Even his detractors do not once challenge his academic credentials. With a proven track record of dynamic leadership, institution building, and community outreach, he is the ideal person to direct the Center for Jewish History. Calls for his ouster based on ad hominem charges on purely political grounds must be rejected."

Question: Are anti-Zionist affiliations now considered "purely political" grounds in the American world of Jewish Studies? Are academics above being influenced by their affiliations?