Pro-Palestinian protesters force closure of Museum of Modern Art


(New York Jewish Week) — Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators protested inside the Museum of Modern Art on Saturday to demand “a free Palestine and an art world without Zionism.”

Footage on Instagram showed demonstrators crowding into the museum’s lobby, chanting “Free Palestine,” and hanging banners that said “Ceasefire now” and “Free Palestine from the river to the sea,” which Jewish organizations have said is an antisemitic call for Israel’s destruction.

Protest organizers and news reports said the demonstration had forced MoMA to close early on Saturday. The museum did not respond to a request for comment.

The Palestinian Youth Movement, one of the organizers, said the protest was meant to demand an end to “arts complicity with Zionism.”

“Art is but one of many weapons in the colonial arsenal,” a speaker from the group told the crowd.

Another organizer, Writers Against the War in Gaza, said in a statement that the protesters were demanding the removal of five museum board members, most of them Jewish, due to alleged links to Israel.

The list includes Ronald S. Lauder, a prolific art collector and leading donor to Jewish and Israeli causes; Paula Crown, the widow of recently deceased Jewish philanthropist James Crown; Larry Fink, CEO of the investment firm BlackRock; private equity investor Leon Black and Marie-Josée Kravis, a Canadian philanthropist.

Pro-Palestinian activists have targeted a number of art galleries across New York City in recent months, including by splashing their buildings with red paint and demanding they “stop selling to Zionists.”

Calls to target Zionists, especially at institutions that are unaffiliated with Israel, are widely seen as antisemitic, given that the majority of American Jews say they have an affinity toward Israel.

Previous anti-Zionist demonstrations, alleging links to Israel, have targeted other New York City institutions that are unconnected to the war, including the Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer hospital. Rallies have also blocked bridges and targeted transportation hubs and holiday events.

The NYPD said on Monday that officers made 13 arrests and seized eight cars for stopping traffic that morning on the Brooklyn Bridge, Midtown Tunnel and the Holland Tunnel. The NYPD shared video of cars holding up traffic while waving Palestinian flags.

New York City’s leading anti-Israel protest group, Within Our Lifetime, was not involved in the protest at MoMA, but held a separate rally outside the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday. The group was banned from Instagram the previous day.