Berlin Jewish Museum
Berlin Jewish Museum iStock

The Jewish Museum of Berlin has appointed a new director, six months after the previous director stepped down under pressure over controversial decisions, JTA reported Thursday.

Hetty Berg, 58, this week was named director of the Foundation Board of the Jewish Museum Berlin. She will take over the management of the museum on April 1, 2020.

The previous director, Peter Schafer, stepped down last June, more than a year before his scheduled retirement, after several incidents including inviting an Iranian delegation to discuss a possible exhibit on Iranian Jewish culture.

The museum also came under fire for hosting anti-Zionist scholar Judith Butler and mounting an exhibit about Jerusalem that some said favored a Palestinian narrative.

The last straw was when Schafer tweeted a link to an article that criticized the German parliament for passing legislation against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The article in question, which appeared in the left-wing daily newspaper Taz, was about a petition in which 240 Jewish and Israeli scholars criticized the nonbinding, nonpartisan May 17 measure.

After the museum criticized for sharing the link, it denied that it opposed the Bundestag resolution, saying it merely wanted to call attention to the discussion and “has in no way positioned itself against the resolution of the Bundestag.”

In announcing Berg’s appointment, Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters, who chairs the museum board, said Berg had “successfully demonstrated her leadership strength in complex organizations.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said as far as it knows, Berg is Jewish, but emphasized that it is her qualifications that matter, not her religion.

Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in German said he hoped she would “continue the tradition of sophisticated exhibitions … and at the same time bring empathy for the Jewish community in Germany and Israel,” and offered the hope that “with her at the helm, the house will again enter calmer waters.”

Berg was born in The Hague, Holland. In 1989 she was appointed curator and cultural historian at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam; and in 2002 became manager and chief curator of the city’s Jewish Cultural Quarter museum complex.

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