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Art center in Buffalo apologizes for declining to work with Jewish school

The refusal was "clearly antisemitic," says Rep. Chris Greene (R-N.Y.).

Buffalo City Hall. Photo by Felix Lipov/Shutterstock.
Buffalo City Hall. Photo by Felix Lipov/Shutterstock.

Locust Street Art, a center in Buffalo, N.Y., that has received tens of thousands of dollars in public funding, declined to work with an Orthodox Jewish school in the city’s Amherst suburb, citing the war in Gaza.

“Upon further review of your organization, we have found our missions are not aligned and we will not be able to set up programming with your school,” the art center wrote to the Ohr Temimim school, WKBW reported.

“It seems we are on opposite sides of a great ethical divide and cannot in good consciousness work with a pro-Israel organization that supports the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” the center wrote.

Chris Greene, a Republican legislator in Erie County, which includes both Buffalo and Amherst, said he was “completely shocked,” WKBW reported. “They coin themselves ‘Art for all’ and therefore it is shocking and disappointing.”

The center “stated it had to do with the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and in the end, there is no mention of Israel or Hamas on this school’s website,” Greene added. “The only thing that it mentions is that they’re Jewish, so it is very clearly antisemitic in nature as far as why they were rejected for partnership.

“They’ve received a lot of money from Erie County and [as] such we’re expecting both personal and financial responsibilities to come with that, which means they need to act certainly within federal guidelines and Title VII seems to be ignored here based on the fact, that again, they were rejected for their faith,” he added.

The center has since apologized.

“I am incredibly ashamed of our lapse in judgment. At Locust Street Art, we know and believe that the arts are for all and it would be deeply wrong of us to deny arts access to the youth of Ohr Temimim,” the center wrote.

“We should not and do not take sides on political matters and we believe that the arts have the power to heal divides and that it can bring people together,” it added. “Locust Street Art has always been and will always be a place where all people, especially those who have been marginalized, are lifted up and belong. We try to always lead with positive intent and love for all people. We failed to abide by that core philosophy today, and let misguided interpretations cloud our judgment.”

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