It might seem an insignificant dispute, a tiny ship in a small bottle floating on a far-off sea. Who cares if a UCLA history professor keeps his job as president of the Center for Jewish History in New York City?
But the fight over David N. Myers, who was tapped to head the Center in June, and whom right-wing adversaries are now trying to get fired, is about America, and Jews, and intellectual freedom. And it’s about the intrusion of politics and money into the world of scholarship.
The Center for Jewish History houses five scholarly organizations, including the American Jewish Historical Society. Among scholars, the appointment of the UCLA historian was the opposite of controversial. Brandeis University historian Jonathan D. Sarna called Myers “the very embodiment of what the center should be.” But then an opinion piece appeared in three politically conservative Jewish publications, assailing Myers as an extremist who, according to one of the headlines, “must be fired for radical viewpoints.”
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