Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center appeared on Fox News yesterday to argue against the Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan. “It’s a great idea, it’s the wrong location,” Hier said. “It’s very insensitive.”
HIER: For 3000 families, the 9/11 site is one of the — is the site of one of the greatest atrocities ever committed in the United States, and it’s a cemetery. And the opinion of the families should be paramount as to what should go near that site. Now having a fifteen-story mosque within 1600 feet of the site is at the very least insensitive.
Interestingly, while Hier believes that Ground Zero should be treated as a cemetery, Hier’s own organization is currently building a “Museum of Tolerance” atop an actual cemetery — the Mamilla Cemetery, a Muslim graveyard in Jerusalem “with thousands of grave sites that go back some 1200 years.” The planned museum has caused a huge international uproar, causing celebrity architect Frank Gehry to withdraw from the project.
In February 2010, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups filed a petition on behalf of the Palestinian descendants of those buried in the Mamilla Cemetery. The petition claimed:
A significant portion of the cemetery is being destroyed and hundreds of human remains are being desecrated so that SWC can build a facility to be called the “Center for Human Dignity – Museum of Tolerance” on this sacred Muslim site.
Great idea. Wrong location.
'Museum Of Tolerance' Director Opposes Mosque But Built Museum On Muslim Cemetery
The group behind the recently opened "Museum of Tolerance" museum in Manhattan has come out against a planned Islamic community center, which includes a mosque, near Ground Zero.
"Religious freedom does not mean being insensitive...or an idiot," Rabbi Meyer May, the Wiesenthal Center's executive director, told Crain's New York.
"Religion is supposed to be beautiful," he said. "Why create pain in the name of religion?"
It's a topic he knows something about. The Wiesenthal Center caused an uproar in for building one of its Museums of Tolerance on top of an old Muslim burial ground in Jerusalem.
The building of that museum has "resulted in digging up the remains of people who had been buried in a Muslim cemetery for generations," according to City University professor Marnia Lazreg. Indeed, in 2006, workers dug up bones, and an Arab group sued to stop the project from going forward.
The Wiesenthal Center has pushed forward, however, and in 2008 the Israeli Supreme Court declared that the center was allowed to build its museum on the land.
The court pointed out that no one had objected years before when the city had paved over the land for a parking lot.
The furor over the downtown Manhattan community center has intensified over the past few weeks. It should be noted, though, that Muslims already hold daily prayers in the building and have for months. And the actual World Trade Center site will host an office tower -- with Conde Nast in negotiations to become a prime tenant.