Ms. Cnaani, in a telephone interview, said while she was not a supporter of BDS, the cancellation of the events demanded a response, especially given that her installation, “For Her Own Good,” explores Goldman’s defense of freedom of speech.
“When I heard about it, I was shocked,” Ms. Cnaani said. “I immediately thought that to not do anything would amount to supporting this decision.”
Mr. Fishback’s play, which was to get its first full public reading at the historical society on Dec. 14, tells the dual stories of a settler family in modern-day Israel and a Jewish family caught up in revolutionary politics in early-20th-century Russia. While it explores “how Jewish families are broken over the politics of Israel-Palestine,” he said in an interview, the cancellation was not about the play’s substance.
“The people who made this decision had no access to my script,” he said. “This was about my beliefs.”
The American Jewish Historical Society, which holds about 40 million archival items, including the original manuscript of Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” is one of five scholarly organizations housed at the Center for Jewish History. While they share a space, each operates with significant autonomy.
While the center has strongly supported Mr. Myers, formerly a professor of Jewish history at the University of California, Los Angeles, against his critics, the cancellation suggests disagreement over how to respond to those who have campaigned against him.
Rachel Lithgow, the historical society’s executive director, who programmed the two events, emphasized that the cancellation was the board’s decision, which she disagreed with but accepted.
“I don’t like this decision, nor have I liked other decisions that have been made,” she said in an interview. But, she added, “I answer to a board I respect.”
Asked about the board’s description of the events as out of step with the society’s mission, Ms. Lithgow, who said she had received numerous threatening emails in recent days, said simply, “Our mission hasn’t changed.” (Bernard J. Michael, the board’s president, declined to elaborate on the statement or otherwise comment.)
Mr. Fishback, the playwright, said he hoped to stage the reading elsewhere, and by Wednesday evening had already raised nearly $5,000 in an online appeal to finance it.
“I want to use this as an opportunity to shed light on negative effects of silencing in the Jewish community,” he said. “This play will see the light of day one way or another.”
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