Posted on 7/3/2017 1:20:31 PM
NYC Whitney Museum: DESPICABLE



AFSI friend Doug Altabef and family are in town from Israel, and recently visited the Whitney Museum, located in downtown Manhattan at the base of the High Line in the Meat Packing District

To their chagrin, anger, disgust and absolute astonishment, one of the exhibits as part of the museum's 78th Biennial showing is, as Doug put it, pure and simple a vile expression of contempt and hatred for Judaism. This exhibit by Jordan Wolfson (a Jew who spent ten years in Israel) is entitled "Real Violence." Briefly, it shows a man being beaten over the head repeatedly with a baseball bat while Hanukkah blessings are chanted in Hebrew in the background.

How something so crude and violent could be considered art is one thing. More important is how dare the museum present an exhibit that is so blatantly anti-Semitic.

This exhibit has been around for several months and is closing in a few weeks, probably too late to run a campaign to shut it down. However, please read the email Doug sent to the museum (below) and then contact the museum yourselves to express your disgust and anger. Send an email to the following entities:

Museum's Director:
Community Affairs:

...or call the museum at (212) 570-3600.

If you check the museum's website (,, you will find that much of its leadership is Jewish, and of course, much of its funding invariably comes from Jews. It is a travesty that an exhibit such as this is permitted a run at this, or any museum.

Here is Doug's email:

To the doyens of the Whitney Museum,


As a native New Yorker, I would have never thought that one of the city's major cultural institutions would ever be party to venal anti-Semitism.


Live and learn. With Jordan Wolfson's "Real Violence" in your current Biennial, the Whitney has become the purveyor of one of the most vile, anti-Semitic pieces featured in a museum since the Third Reich.


It is a piece so disgusting and gratuitously hateful as to call into question the fundamental integrity of your institution.


Let's be clear as to why this is such an obscene, reprehensible act. Wolfson's virtual reality piece quite simply features one man literally bashing in the brains of another, while a voice chants in Hebrew the blessing for the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah.


What can possibly be the connection of the two other than some toxic linkage of a chanted blessing integral to the Jewish faith with senseless, sadistic and gratuitous violence?


What are you trying to say? What is the artistic expression here? Is this Wolfson's way of saying that the real violence is Judaism, that Judaism is somehow tantamount or encapsulated in the kind of violence seen in an ISIS execution video? Why not feature posters from Der Sturmer while you're at it?


I defy you or anyone else to defend, justify or explain the artistic significance of the piece, other than to say that open season on Judaism is now a brave aspect of artistic expression, a bold way of illustrating intersectionality.


If you were to defend yourselves by pointing out that Wolfson is (presumably) Jewish, I would remind you that perverse self-hatred hardly warrants a platform.


It goes without saying that you would never presume to show similar violence accompanied readings from the Koran, Toni Morrison's works or the myriad other identities you thought it so important to feature in your show. Somehow a respect, let alone a sensitivity to something Jewish is so, what? Tacky? Déclassé? Speaking truth to privilege?


Interestingly, in fleeing the exhibit I mentioned my disgust to two guards on duty on the sixth floor and both apologized and said that others had expressed their negativity as well.


So it is known, and I suspect that you are proud of it, feeling courageous for what is actually just venal Jew hatred that would have made Goebbels smile.


Ladies and gentlemen, heal thyselves. Apologize for this abomination and get it off the floor immediately.


I am copying various Jewish organizations in the area in the hope that they will add their voices to what should be a deafening rebuke.


To paraphrase the first President Bush, this atrocity will not stand.


Very truly yours,


Douglas Altabef





Join thousands in Hebron and tell the world that UNESCO's votes are meaningless!


AFSI in ISRAEL - Mark Your Calendars NOW! 


Here are the dates for the next two AFSI Chizuk Missions:


November 7-14, 2017 - CHAYE SARAH in HEBRON and MORE


April 17-25, 2018 - YOM HA'ATZMAUT 70th Anniversary Celebration of Israel's Independence


Watch for itinerary details. Contact AFSI: 212-828-2424. Reservations now being accepted.


(Please note: both missions end at night. If you are booking an immediate return flight after midnight (i.e., early AM), please make sure it is for the subsequent day.)