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.