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As director, Anne Pasternak has put on plenty of woke exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum. But that doesn't mean she deserved antisemitism from her own movement.
An apartment building in Brooklyn Heights woke up to this, on Wednesday, June 14. (Photo by Peter Kendall Clark)

Progressives Realize They Have a Jew-Hate Problem

As the woke of New York issue condemnations of antisemitism, it’s tempting to dismiss it as too little, too late. But that would be a mistake.

Attendees at the Nova Music Festival exhibition were harassed in Manhattan, my colleague was mobbed while trying to report at a protest, and a masked thug on the subway barked in a train, “Raise your hand if you’re a Zionist. This is your chance to get out.” And that’s only what made the news. In New York. That was all Monday. 

Yesterday, I woke up to a text from an old source. He sent me pictures of the outside of his apartment building in Brooklyn Heights: it was covered in red paint, including red arrows meant to symbolize that the people inside are targets. A sign, punctuated with red handprints, was addressed to his neighbor, the director of the Brooklyn Museum. It read, “Anne Pasternak Brooklyn Museum White Supremacist Zionist.” He told me the act of vandalism happened around 2:30 in the morning, and that there was now an NYPD squad car stationed outside the building. “It’s pretty disgusting,” he texted. Other Jewish members of the museum’s board live in the building too. 

From AOC to Brad Lander—the liberal comptroller who once defended the antisemite Linda Sarsour—New York’s leading progressives finally seem to realize they have a problem on their hands. As they issue condemnations of antisemitism, it’s tempting to dismiss it as too little too late. 

“You built this, @bradlander! Enjoy the fruits of the Jew-hatred you harvested,” wrote my old colleague Karol Markowicz. Noah Pollak wrote, “This is 100% the fault of the Democratic Party.”

The attack on Pasternak’s home was doubly irresistible. “I hate that this is happening but I hate even more that the progressives who run the Brooklyn Museum advocated for the rise of woke that led directly to this moment,” The Post Millennial’s Libby Emmons posted on X. Anne Pasternak is a liberal Jew, director of one of New York’s great cultural establishments who once told New York magazine, “white staff and trustees have to do the work of learning about our nation’s history and looking at their own education, conditioning, and biases, before we can lead meaningful change. That work is deep, hard, and essential.” She’s championed exhibits on themes of gender and race, lynching, and one that examined Picasso’s misogyny through the critical eye of comedian Hannah Gadsby. Her programming is like a woke Mad Lib. 

Even so, her own museum has been mobbed twice since her tenure began, by members of the Decolonize This Place movement in 2018 and by pro-Palestine protesters affiliated with Within Our Lifetime just last month. They stormed the lobby of the building and scaled the facade to hang a banner from the roof. Instead of repudiating the bullies literally storming the gates, museum officials were quick to tell CBS they did not call the police, even though 34 people were arrested by the NYPD that day. They offered this frankly surreal response to the mobbing: “Displaying banners inside the building or affixed to the building is against museum policy and security protocol.”

Today, we see that the revolution Pasternak and Lander and AOC fomented is eating its own. But that doesn’t mean it’s deserved. 

Putting on woke exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum and mouthing woke platitudes doesn’t mean Pasternak signed off on her own doxxing. No one deserves antisemitism—no matter how dumb their politics.

There should have been plenty of wake-up calls for the progressive left that the antisemitism was coming from inside the house. Often, they’re footing the phone bill. But if the alarm is finally rousing them out of their slumber, we shouldn’t pour cold water on their heads. We should welcome them back to reality. But an apology would be nice.

Suzy Weiss is a reporter at The Free Press. Read her piece, “A Tale of Two Columbias,” and follow her on X @SnoozyWeiss.

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