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The Mosque at Ground Zero

Rescuers search the debris of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center the days after the 9/11/2001 attack by 19 muslims. Photo copyright by photographer Isaac Alon.

Over the past eighteen years, The Jewish Post has been driven to focus and report on events that bring human beings together. This is especially true when it comes to interfaith and interracial stories. Among the factors that make these stories so compelling to write and read is the honesty, integrity and selflessness of those people who are the story.

In the current "Mosque at Ground Zero" drama, the imam at the center of the controversy, and the financial backers behind him, simply do not pass the "smell test" in our opinion. The more he talks to the media, and the more intransigent his backers appear, the less honest his comments sound.

We have a number of concerns that thus far have not been resolved to our satisfaction. Does the building of this mosque and the statements of its "mosqueteers" resemble, in any way, a sincere concern for the sanctity of the Ground Zero complex? Is there any empathy for the raw feelings and raw nerves of those who lost loved ones to murderers who claimed to be messengers of Allah and of an extreme brand of Islam. Is there a desire to heal the wounds that ALL Americans have carried since September 11, 2001?

Imam Abdul Rauf, please do not look into a television camera lens and tell an interviewer that if you had known how upset what you are referring to as a "tolerance center" would make the majority of Americans feel, that you would not have decided to build it where you are currently planning to build it. How could an intelligent man, such as you, not have known what kind of reaction and anguish this would cause? For you to claim not knowing that building a "mega mosque" and an Islamic center adjacent to the area where the attack occurred would be viewed by many in the Muslim world as the final victory of Islam over America is absolute hypocrisy.

Imam Rauf, tells us that if this edifice is not built, then the Muslims around the world will hate us and that hatred will fuel greater attacks against us. Is that supposed to mean that a reasonable compromise to defuse this issue is now off the table? Or, does it mean that his supposed goal of tolerance, peace and understanding must take a back seat to international pressure to act in a "responsible" manner?

We have news for Imam Rauf. Americans have no desire to feast on the fear that you are dishing out. If there is a Muslim hatred towards America and Americans as you claim, then what you consider your "mosque of peace" is a "piece of work" that will not make that hatred vanish quite so easily. If you really want tolerance, then perhaps you and your financial backers ought to demonstrate some tolerance of your own for the feelings and desires of the overwhelming majority of Americans, who are taking your actions and statements as incendiary.

If you really want to promote interfaith activities, forget the swimming pool in your "tower of tolerance" and let Christians, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Copts, Buddhists and the like share in the construction and in the utilization of the space occupied by this endeavor. This country provides a big tent under which all people of all religions can learn to co-exist in harmony.

It is ironic that permission for the rebuilding of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed on 9/11, was not given after nine years of promises by the Port Authority, and yet, this Mosque, which one would assume would be judged in a similar manner to the Church, was approved. On the surface it makes the mosque ruling appear unfair at the very least and quite possibly outrageous and offensive.

America does not need to be victimized by a well orchestrated attempt to build this mosque and religious center in an entirely inappropriate setting. There were times in recent history when world leaders were at a crossroad of actions which would have caused pain and suffering. On April 15, 1993, on the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Pope John II told an order of Carmelite nuns to move their convent just outside the barbed wire perimeter of the Aushwitz death camp. His action diffused what was an impediment to improved relations between Roman Catholics and Jews in Poland. In 1985, President Reagan planned to go to Bitburg Cemetary with German President Helmut Kohl, as part of the plan to observe the 40th Anniversary of V-E Day, knowing that no American serviceman was buried there but members of the Waffen SS were. Elie Weisel said to Reagan, "I � implore you to do something else, to find another way, another site. That place Mr. President, is not your place. Your place is with the victims of the SS."

There are times when sensitivity to peoples deepest hurts call for righteous action. This is one of those times.

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