Group opposing war in Gaza cancels Holocaust museum event after critics call it antisemitic
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Photo: USHMM)

Organizers say their motives for gathering planned in Washington were misconstrued

By Beth Harpaz
December 26, 2023

This story was originally published in the Forward. Click here to get the Forward’s free email newsletters delivered to your inbox.

An organization opposed to the war in Gaza canceled plans to gather at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., saying its motives were misconstrued as antisemitic.

Critics rejected the explanation as revisionist. “Your intentions were painfully obvious,” tweeted one. “Stop equivocating. Own your hatred.”

The group, Doctors Against Genocide, had gone on social media asking participants to get free tickets to enter the museum at 11 a.m. Thursday, with another event planned for 3 p.m. that day outside the White House.

“Stop the genocide in Gaza! Don’t ring in 2024 with an ongoing genocide!” read the group’s posts on Instagram and X (formerly known as Twitter).

In a post on X, Aviva Klompas, cofounder of Boundless Israel, condemned the original plan as “an angry antisemitic mob desecrating the memory of 6 million murdered Jews and trying to distort and deny history.”

In a now-deleted Instagram post announcing the cancellation, organizers said they had intended to show “empathy for the horrors of that genocide” — meaning the Holocaust — while bringing “awareness to the ongoing genocide in Gaza.” The post said the group “stands against all hate of vulnerable people,” adding, “Never again for all.”

The group later posted a letter on social media saying that the event had been conceptualized not as a protest but as a “planned visit” to “learn from the museum’s initiatives in genocide education and prevention to inform our own efforts.”

Critics clapped back. “Too late!! You showed your true colors,” said one.

Raymund Flandez, a spokesperson for the Holocaust Memorial Museum, said in an email that the museum was not in touch with the organizers, but that “holding such an event at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum would have been extremely offensive, particularly to Holocaust survivors.”

Doctors Against Genocide did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via its social media accounts.

The group, founded in November, describes itself as a global coalition of health care workers dedicated to “confronting and preventing genocide” with a current focus on Gaza. One of its social media posts compared Israel’s war in Gaza to the Holocaust as well as to the genocides in Rwanda and against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

Israel began a bombing campaign and invasion of Gaza following the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, in which Hamas murdered 1,200 people and took 240 hostage. The death toll in Israel’s war in Gaza now exceeds 20,000, according to Gaza health officials.

The Jerusalem Post said Doctors Against Genocide is funded by Jetpac, which describes itself as working for a “strong American Muslim political infrastructure” to increase the community’s influence and engagement.

Pro-Palestinian protests have taken place at several museums in New York City, including a large gathering outside the American Museum of Natural History; the entrance to the Whitney Museum splashed with fake blood; and demonstrators at the Brooklyn Museum hanging banners, taking over public areas inside and out, and parading through galleries while chanting anti-Israel slogans.

Beth Harpaz is a reporter for the Forward. She previously worked for The Associated Press, first covering breaking news and politics, then as AP Travel editor. Email: harpaz@forward.com.

This article was originally published on the Forward.

Leave a Reply