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ADL Comes Out Against Ground Zero Center

Anti-bigotry group sides with people it calls bigots

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The ADL’s new bed-fellows.(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

The Anti-Defamation League has issued a statement opposing the construction of the Islamic community center a couple blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. (Earlier this week, a community board recommended that the Landmarks Preservation Commission allow the project to go through.) The release goes out of its way to grant Cordoba House’s organizers good intentions and to condemn the bigotry of some who oppose it. So what is the problem? “The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location,” the ADL argues, “is counterproductive to the healing process.”

It adds:

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain—unnecessarily—and that is not right.

Founded in 1913, the ADL, in its words, “fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.” Except when it does the precise opposite.

Statement on Islamic Community Center Near Ground Zero [ADL]
Earlier: Ground Zero for a Fight

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mbsocol says:

thanks for standing up

I’m not sure it’s necessarily fair to say that they’re siding with the bigots here. They acknowledge that the organizers have every right to build, but say they don’t think they should. Is there really anything wrong with that?

The ADL is certainly entitled to hold their own opinions and make their own recommendations, just as we (and everyone else) are entitled to disagree with them and make conflicting recommendations, and the organizers of the Cordoba House are entitled to build what they want where they want within the confines of the law (which I think we can probably agree is clearly on their side).

Without taking a position on this particular issue (or any particular issue) I think it’s safe to say that a bigot can sometimes hold a valid opinion, even if they arrived at it through invalid reasoning. So to agree with a bigot (on a specific issue) is not necessarily to be a bigot oneself.

Personally, I have no problem with building a Islamic center near Ground Zero. I do, however, think it might be unwise as there are plenty of other people who do have a problem with it and may well cause trouble if it’s built which could undermine the whole positive idea behind the center. A better course might be a shared center with the JCC, YMCA, and whatnot. But that’s all down to their approach and PR, so maybe they can pull it off. If they can, I say more power to them.

Daniel says:

It’s not the first time Mr. Foxman’s ADL responds in an unexplicable way.
So unfortunate!

Andrew says:

I assume the ADL will now oppose all synagogue construction wherever jews have committed any act of terrorism.

Thanks for standing up, this title is misleading. They aren’t siding with bigots but with those who lost loved ones.

shualah elisheva says:

i would understand if they opposed cordoba house on proven grounds of religion.baiting or hate.incitement. hypothetical example: many audio recordings of the people “in charge” spewing anti.american or anti.semitic sulfur.

but they are opposing this because it hurts the healing process? really?

cognitive dissonance.

Marc Tracy says:

the subhed is meant to be provocative, of course–but it’s not inaccurate. they do condemn the bigotry of some opponents, as I note in the post. but they are also joining their side. which isn’t always the wrong thing: even a blind squirrel catches an occasional nut, and even a bigot can be right about something. the problem is that the ADL exists exclusively to fight bigotry: It should NEVER be on the same side as bigotry, and if its personal, unrelated opinions drive it to be on that side, then it best serves its own mission by just keeping its mouth shut.

ASL3676 says:

ADL should be ashamed of itself but they are probably caving in to some large contibutor…..Money talks….just aslk Oliver Stone….

marta says:

A friend of mine said Kaddish for his son thanks to the Islamists that attacked NY.
Do you believe that he’s a bigot, because it hurts him? As a Spaniard, I know better that Cordoba it isn’t the symbol of peace between cultures that Zapatero wants to sell, but the first step in the Islamic world on their dread to rebuild the Caliphate.
Without bigotry and from the experience, beware.
If they are so sensitive and prone to peace, lowering profile would be the nicest thing to do.

What Josh says. In fact, I’m sure it’s *unfair* to say that this constitutes siding with bigots. Suppose the 9/11 terrorists had been Jews, and that Jews later wanted to build a synagogue near the place. Even if the synagogue-building Jews were moderate, tolerant, and as different as day from night from the terrorists, we might think that it was in bad taste for them to build a synagogue so close to where the atrocity had happened. It’s not always a good idea to do what you have a right to do. Is the question whether there should be, say, a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz, just a question of exercising rights? Does one have to be a bigot, or to deny the Carmelites’ good will, in order to think that having a convent there might be inappropriate? I don’t think so.

The ADL said it best, they have a right to build at this site. If anything, the proposed Islamic Center can act as a way for Americans to differentiate between radical Islam and the majority of Muslims who do not support violence.

Perhaps the new site will also allow Muslims to relate to 9/11 and prevent 9/11 from slipping into a perpetual and intransient symbol of Muslim hatred against the US.

I don’t understand why the ADL is involved in this, nor why they chose such a ridiculous stance.

Despite ADL’s great work, the time has come for Foxman to step down.

(See Jon Stewart’s sketch on this issue).

aprof says:

I’m sure the ADL would respond positively to this letter…

Dear Mr. Foxman,

We at Valley High School understand the ADL demands that we no longer have Jesus and a Nativity scene as part of a mandatory Christmas pageant. Legally, the ADL and our Jewish students do have the right to demand that we cease the Jesus thing, but this is not a question of rights, but instead of what is right. The winter pageant Jesus has been a tradition here for 100 years and is beloved by the 99% of our students who are Christian. Insisting upon your “rights” in this context will impose a great deal of pain — unnecessarily — upon the vast majority of our community. We urge you to show sensitivity and support the healing processes by not destroying this community tradition. Sincerely, Valley High School

Andrew – that was a joke, right? Where, outside of Israel, have Jews committed any acts which might be called “terrorist”?

Fnord says:

What is amazing is to see the ADL play right into the hands of Al Quaedas propaganda. What does this have to do with ADLs stated mission of opposing anti-semitism? How many liberal neutrals will react like Spencer Ackerman, and just shake their heads at the crazies? When you stand shoulder to shoulder with Pam Geller you know you are wrong.

Andrew says:

Um, Sam, heard of the Jewish Defense League, committed several terrorist attacks in NYC, including on the Egyptian Consulate. And I’m not sure why you seek to exclude terrorist attacks committed in Israel, are the victims not just as much victims there?

In any case, my response was primarily to show that IF a major terrorist attack like this was committed by a Jewish group, the ADL would not respond in this way. Can you possibly dispute that?

Shmuel says:

Honestly, every time I think the Gang of Idiots at the ADL has run out of ways to hurt their own cause, they prove me wrong. This was manifestly a case where they should have been foursquare in support of the Islamic center, going pretty much to the core of their mission statement. We already knew they were tone-deaf, sanctimonious, and self-defeating; they now stand revealed as hypocrites as well.


The ADL may be right or wrong in making the statement. However the meanspirite and hatred embodied in the article, headlines and captions, as well as some of comments speaks poorly of those attempting to build a magazine here. Management should apologize to the ADL and its readers, and then state in great detail why they believe the ADL position to be wrong. That’s the way responsible journalists would handle it.

Clay says:

I thought the purpose of the ADL was to start a war with Iran? Anyway, moving the capitol from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a pretty provocative act in it’s day.

Dwanna says:

@Barry Bayer,

I’m confused. Why should the management apologise to the ADL. Don’t they have the right to choose what side they want to be on and make a statement to that effect?

I think you should apologise to the management of The Tablet and its readers, then state in great detail why you believe they are wrong and therefore should apologise to the ADL.

The ADL is wrong for yet another reason: the WTC site will be a potential target again and again. But if there is a mosque there it will deter Islamic terrorists from returning to the site with malice.

Gorby says:

I missed the leap in logic in the post where you exactly explain how the ADL is bigoted and antisemetic, counter to their established goals.

Mike Shapiro says:

@aprof…I read and reread your posting and I find it both confusing and illogical. It was not the ADL that led the charge to eliminate required religiously oriented, mandatory Christmas pageants, it was the ACLU. Virtually every court in the country has upheld that position.

@Andrew…If you had actually bothered to do a little exploration, you would find out that the ADL has, over the years, been vehement in their denunciation of acts of terror as perpetrated by groups like the Jewish Defense League.

@Those who say that the ADL owes someone an apology…you really have not read the ADL position. Actually Tablet (and I am becoming less and less of a fan) does owe an apology to the ADL, for using a headline to misrepresent their position.

Finally, I do wish that some of the superliberals that are continually writing to this and other boards would actually take a look at history and at news over the past 25 years in places like London, Barcelona, Bali, Mumbai, etc. and begin to take a realistic view of life and, just maybe, the possibility that Moslems are trying to paper over a violent philosophy.

“The Turks and Armenians need to revisit their past. The Jewish community shouldn’t be the arbiter of that history, nor should the U.S. Congress.”
-Abe Foxman

Foxman should follow his own principles and know when not to get involved. The building of this Islamic Center is at the center of a bigoted national debate. The Jewish community doesn’t need to throw its hat into the ring.

Building the site violates no laws, and Foxman’s cry of exceptionalism because of the “unnecessary harm” to the victims is absurd. It impedes the rights of those seeking to exercise their legal rights to build.

Ultimately, the site will be built and we will all learn to live with it. Perhaps Foxman himself will someday speak there.

@Mike Shapiro: Even if what you say about the ADL’s condemnation of JDL is correct, have they used that as a basis to condone or advance any collective anti-Jewish punishment?

I don’t think you have to be a “superliberal,” whatever that means, to think that the ADL should have just kept its mouth shut on this or even think much of Islam as a religion.

The whole premise of this debate should be rejected. They are not putting a mosque at Ground Zero. Has anyone been to Manhattan making these comments? There is more in the two blocks distance than there is in the whole of most towns in America.

And there already is a mosque 4 blocks away, Masjid Manhattan. Should it be kicked out? If not, does that mean it is far enough away? What is far enough away? No one is planning an onion dome on WTC 1.

How can so many Jews forget so soon what happens when you allow one minority to be persecuted. Others do too. I think most of us haven’t forgotten and we expect the ADL to remind the rest of us who have, not reinforce them.

Benjamin Entine says:

How about a Shinto shrine and Japanese cultural center appended to the wreck of the USS Arizona? (apologies to any members of the Greatest Generation reading) Get my point?
Some places are remembered with such transcendent pain they become sanctified. In such instances the only right thing to do is extend appropriate respect–regardless if you think a concert hall would enhance an Indian burial ground or a cross would ease the suffering arising from Auschwitz–leave it alone. Such reflects the essence of an I-Thou relationship. It is hardly prejudice to set requirements of mutual respect.

… and to everyone’s surprise the new imam is not as liberal
as his predecessor and is in fact making fundamentalist noises
and stirring up his flock


J Street, anyone?

New York is a big city. If it offends the sensibilities of victims’ families to locate an Islamic Center in the area, and if those who want to build Cordoba House are truly interested in healing, another site certainly could have been found. It seems they want to help victims families forget the pain of their broken hearts by sticking a finger in their eye!

Like it or not, there is a triumphalist strain in Islam that leads to the building of not one, but two mosques on top of Judaism’s holiest site. Recent years have seen an attempt to build a mosque to dominate Manger Square in Bethlehem, and the desecration and destruction of Joseph’s Tomb. Combine this with the insistence of the World Trade Center perpetrators that they were acting in the name of Allah and Islamist propaganda that trumpets the destruction of the World Trade Center as a victory for Islam and it’s not hard to see why many, apparently including the ADL, feel that another site should have been found.

Accusing those who feel this way of supporting bigotry is akin to accusing supporters of Cordoba House of supporting terrorism.

aprof says:

There is a shinto shrine within a couple of miles of the USS Arizona. The Cordoba House won’t be part of the actual 9/11 memorial any more than that shrine is part of the Arizona memorial.

More to the point, Tim McVeigh claimed he was acting in the name of Christianity when he bombed the federal building in OKC. Should we therefore consider it wrong to build a Christian church near the site?

Nancy says:

Please, once and for all, the site of the proposed Islamic community center is four blocks from Ground Zero, not *at* Ground Zero. To those opposing its construction, how far would you extend the Muslim-free zone? 14th Street?

It’s Friday afternoon. Muslim construction workers at the WTC have stopped for prayers. Better hurry on down there to stop that nonsense.

NB Reilly says:

Gur: “Suppose the 9/11 terrorists had been Jews, and that Jews later wanted to build a synagogue near the place. Even if the synagogue-building Jews were moderate, tolerant, and as different as day from night from the terrorists, we might think that it was in bad taste for them to build a synagogue so close to where the atrocity had happened.”

No, actually, we might not, unless we held the (bigoted) position that the members of a group ought possess collective guilt for the actions of its extremists, however unaffiliated those margins may be from the rest of the group. This community center has nothing to do with Al Qaeda. I don’t see the connection.

I’m startled that it’s apparently so difficult to grasp the bigotry here (particularly for those of us who grew up hearing about how we were directly responsible for the murder of Jesus Christ).

And to Benjamin Entine, you’re right, it isn’t prejudiced to set “requirements of mutual respect,” although it would probably be useful if those terms came from a point of actual respect rather than unthinking, vengeful, conflationary — and yes, I believe it bears repeating once more — bigotry.

Some Facts this Article Fails to Mention (and anyone can check them out):

1) The so called “Ground Zero” Mosque is NOT a Mosque and is NOT at Ground Zero! It is a multi-use facility and interfaith cultural center that will include a prayer ROOM for area Muslims, and it is SEVERAL BLOCKS from Ground Zero and cannot be seen from Ground Zero!

2) This prayer place has ALREADY EXISTED since 2008 as a prayer room in the old Burlington Factory building, but due to the fact that the building is falling apart, it is being RECONSTRUCTED as a culture center!

3) Several Muslims DIED in the Twin Towers on 9/11, and several NY Muslim families also buried their loved ones due to this heinous act of terrorism, THAT THEIR RELIGION IS INNOCENT OF!!!!

4) The “hijackers” we 19 in number. They do not represent and in fact have nothing to do with the 1.57 BILLION Muslims worldwide, most of whom have never harmed or hated anyone.

5) Spreading Sharia Law? Oh please! There are 9 million Muslims in the US that are (happily)subject to the US Judicial System and ONLY apply sharia law in matters of marriage and divorce, which is also done by Jews who marry and divorce only according to Jewish Holy Law!!!!!!!!

6) Since the number of Muslims in the US is growing (as is the ENTIRE population of the US), and since they can’t very well find the “carpeted prayer room’ in the friendly neighborhood Church or Synagogue, they need to build more mosques to pray in! But suddenly we’ve decided to become like Saudi Arabia, which prohibits building Churches and Synagogues! Way to go, AMERICAN DEMOCRACY!

Good for the right-wing nuts and republicans who managed to mislead many more bigots to support them!

Fnord says:

search pamela geller.

NB Reilly: If you think (as I do) that having a convent at Auschwitz isn’t a good idea, does that mean you also have to think that the Catholic order that wants to have it there is somehow responsible for what happened at Auschwitz? I don’t think it means that at all: this isn’t about collective guilt; it’s about what’s in good taste.
LH: Yes, if the US prohibited the building of mosques, it would be taking a step towards becoming Saudi-like. By contrast, in wondering whether the Cordoba House organizers ought to exercise their right in the way they want to exercise it, those Americans who so wonder aren’t even taking a step towards banning minarets a la Switzerland, much less doing anything Saudi-like. I would oppose banning minarets. I would oppose taking legal action to stop Cordoba House. I’m saying only that its organizers should reflect on whether what they’re planning will really have a healing effect. One doesn’t have to be Pamela Geller to be at least a little skeptical that it will.
HWB says: “Perhaps the new site will also allow Muslims to relate to 9/11 and prevent 9/11 from slipping into a perpetual and intransient symbol of Muslim hatred against the US.” As others have pointed out, there were Muslims among the 9/11 victims. I don’t think the absence of a community center is preventing their families from relating to what happened there. As for the Muslim world at large, it would be odd if Muslims were unique in this respect. I mean: I don’t need for there to be a synagogue there in order to be able to relate to what happened.
Jonathan Gerard says: “The ADL is wrong for yet another reason: the WTC site will be a potential target again and again. But if there is a mosque there it will deter Islamic terrorists from returning to the site with malice.” Er, some of the Muslims who have been killed by Islamic terrorists have been killed _in mosques._ Cordoba House’s organizers would tell you so themselves. No deterrent; no ADL error here.

arabs jew and christians unite to smash the state
we are all brothers and sisters
put your energy into making this a better world
then no matter were you come from it will be sublime
its not where your from its where you are at

Hershl says:

ADL is on the right side on this.

NY Times article suggests tide turning against 911 mosque.

The deck is stacked and the overwhelming majority of Americans see a mosque on the ground where our heroes were killed in the name of Allah as offensive and revolting.

They suggest that come November the mosque and its supporters will be toast.

Ranman says:

What the ADL has done is essentially forgiven the narrow-minded bigotry which lies at the heart of the opposition which bunches the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims along with those radical fundamentalists who comprise a small percentage of the religion’s practitioners.

Islam IS NOT the problem. In fact, many Muslims died on 9/11 as well.

The ADL has sold-out, and should be condemned.

Aron T says:

You know what makes me angry? I mean really really angry? That the cost for the 9/11 memorial is pushing $1 billion! By contrast, for years the city fought compensating the responders to the tragedy who are sick and dying, not to mention the tens of thousands of people (like the superintendent of my LES building who is dying from emphysema he contracted from cleaning up the building post 9/11) who get no compensation whatsoever not to mention no health care coverage in this sick society we live in.

With all due respect to the victims’ families (and I don’t respect those among them who turned out to be money suckers), their loss is no greater nor more precious than the families who have fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who die everyday in this city from unexpected illness or accident. So why do we fetishize these 9/11 victims? To justify a $1 trillion / year defense industry that kills millions and enrichens a few. $1 billion is a small price to keep that racket going.

So please, you “sensitive” & “caring” people, stop whining about this mosque 4 blocks away from the site and focus on this travesty of a “memorial” which is an ugly propaganda monstrosity. Did you criticize allowing the war criminal Bush tread on that “holy” ground? Somehow I think not.

NB Reilly says:

Gur, I absolutely do not buy your “taste” argument, which I view as a cover – a particularly sturdy cover, but one which I will nevertheless attempt to dismantle.

First, as several other commenters have pointed out, the Islamic center is not ON the site of the World Trade Center, but nearby, so the taste argument is irrelevant. Moreover, I don’t see why an Islamic center is particularly offensive. I would no more like to see a mosque on the site than a Christian church, or a synagogue, or, for that matter, a Burlington Coat Factory. The site is sacred to itself, not to any particular religion.

Not to mention the fact that this Carmelite convent analogy you keep bringing up is apparently more complex than you indicate (by the description from the very site to which you link):

“The convent controversy revealed the conflicting claims to Auschwitz. When Jews heard the word Auschwitz, they naturally thought of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camps, which were the site of the murder of some one million Jews, or Auschwitz III (Buna Monowitz), the work camp where many Jews were worked to death or to near death before they were sent to the gas chambers… They did not think of Auschwitz I, the prison camp, which had been the site of Polish incarceration, torture, and death.”

As I see it, any issue of “taste” here refers not to the specific Christian affiliation of the convent (surely there are many Christian structures and landmarks in the immediate vicinity of the camp), but to the fact that it’s AT Auschwitz. Building just about anything at Auschwitz would be in poor taste. I mean…it’s Auschwitz!

Unfortunately, unlike Auschwitz, the World Trade Center site is far from an established memorial, and that needs to be remedied. But the answer most certainly is not to use the site as a pawn to seize debate on religious tolerance for the benefit of a few paranoid Republicans. Cause you know that has nothing to do with taste.

Taylor Shapiro says:

Suffice it to say that this latest busywork on the part
of Abe and company clearly explicates why they have
no time for Jews who have actually been the victim of anti-semitic hate crimes.

They have neither the time, nor the expertise, nor dare I say the interest, to be of help to victims of anti-semitism.

I know this personally–and well.

As such a victim, I found no ADL office in any major city
in the U.S. had any advice nor any actual interest in even
recording this anti-semitic hate crime.

Please, be careful when writing that check to the premier
American Anti-semitic Organization. If you do and you
need them, you’ll be disappointed on two counts.

Very sad really.

The AdL, a name you grew up depending upon. Not!

Chasing the comments of Mel Gibson and Oliver Stone
really has become a full-time job.

Jacob says:

The ADL is a hypocritical organization. It fight bigotry against Jews and promotes bigotry against Muslims.

NB Reilly: If what’s meant by calling the concern for taste a “cover” is that people who are raising that concern are disingenuous or arguing in bad faith, that really they/we are all just bigots, then there’s only so far that debate can proceed. I mean: I imagine most people who think the community center *should* be built are genuinely concerned with religious freedom, but it’s not only that I take them at their word, it’s also that we wouldn’t get very far, in debate, if I said that religious freedom was just a cover they/you were using, that what really motivated them/you was an aversion to being on the same side of an issue as Republicans. There’d be no way you could disprove that. You could produce examples of issues where you’ve agreed with Republicans, even examples of Republicans you’ve voted for, but it would still be open to me, if I wanted to keep on saying that you were disingenuous, to say that what was really motivating you in _this_ case, was an irrational fear, and that lofty principles were just something you were hiding behind. Wouldn’t it be kind of silly of me to do that, though? I mean: how can I know what your motivations really are? I have to accept that they’re what you say they are. Anyway: re. taste and distance. If you do grant that it would be in bad taste to have an Islamic Center right at Ground Zero, then it’s not clear at what distance from Ground Zero taste should cease to be a concern. The cafeteria for the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC is in a separate building from the museum itself, but I can see how someone might object to its being *anywhere* near the museum. Would someone objecting like that necessarily be unfeeling about the fact that people need to eat sometimes? The Cordoba House case is different because freedom of religion is constitutionally protected. That’s as it should be, but I don’t see how there’s an infringement of that freedom in this case–CH’s organizers are at liberty to ignore the ADL’s advice.

Fnord says:

Seriously, you folks who support ADL in this nbeed to see where it is positioning itself. It is publicly backing Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and their hatecampaign against all muslims. It is entering into a case that has been constructed by bigots and racists and fascists. It is joining forces with the haters. It is following the jerusalem Post line of Caroline Glick, paranoia.

By the same argument, I can now oppose any synagogue because it reminds me of the dead of Gaza. I can now start slamming jewish initiatives because of Israel. ADL has now made broad identity based hate politics legitimate. ADL has in effect broken every premise of their function.

Fnord: “[The ADL] is publicly backing Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and their hate campaign against all Muslims.” Where’s the evidence of that? I only know about the ADL statement Marc linked to above. Is there another statement where the ADL publicly backs Geller, Spencer, and anti-Muslim hate? If there is, I’ll take out a subscription to The Nation or do some other hat eating-like thing of your choice. I can’t say whether the ADL is paranoid, but if the statement they issued is what you’re going by…well, I think you’ll find that there are lots of paranoid people out there. (I suppose I’m one of them, but I have to say: the criteria seem to be a little broad.) Re. Gaza and synagogues – I don’t think there’s any imperative that synagogues be built within a few blocks of anywhere that Gazans were killed. There are senses in which I don’t think the Gaza War and 9/11 are comparable, but I won’t get into that and will just say: fine; no synagogues within a few blocks of where Gazans died.

NB Reilly says:

OK, fine, Gur, I admit I was accusing you of bad faith, which I can’t prove. I was also accusing the ADL of bad faith, for that matter, which I also can’t prove. Doesn’t matter. I’ll take you at your word. (Theirs, not so much.) And if you want to accuse me of bad faith—you know, hypothetically speaking, of course—fine, whatever.

Either way, you make a good point about the arbitrariness of taste’s purview. Where DO you draw the line? Well, I draw it at the boundaries of the site itself, cause that can be officially defined, and not just shifted around for the hysterical purposes of a political shell game.

I still don’t think there’s anything specifically distasteful about an Islamic community center near Ground Zero. But even if there were, is it the Cordoba House’s responsibility to decide where that line is? That’s a rather unfair burden. What should they do, calculate a reverse-square ratio of distance to victims’ pain and then set their construction zone two standard deviations away? Yeah, it’s ridiculous, but can you come up with a more rational means of figuring this out? (I can: set the border at the site itself. There. Problem solved.)

… (cont’d below)

NB Reilly says:

OK, so the ADL wants to define that line. Or at least, lend a helping hand. Not really their call, and as Marc Tracy said, a bit of a conflict of interest. Sure, the Cordoba House has every right to ignore the ADL’s “advice,” which I think they should. You’re right, this is a question of religious freedom. So what would the Cordoba House prove by agreeing that it’s harmful to the healing process for them to be there, and moving out 200 feet, 400 feet, 3 miles, whatever? They would be implicitly supporting the idea that they have some reason to feel guilty for what happened, that they are somehow affiliated with the terrorists.

Cause, you see, I don’t agree with your distinction of taste and guilt. A neutral space has no particular claim to matters of taste. As I’ve already said, I think the site is sacred unto itself, and that sacrality would be deranged by an incursion of any kind. But that’s not what you’re talking about. You’re talking about the specific claims taste has on an Islamic center—not a church, not a synagogue—NEAR the site. As I understand your argument here, it wouldn’t be in bad taste for a synagogue to build near the site because of its wholly neutral relationship to the site, right? Which means that the distastefulness of the Islamic center comes from some ionic connection to the site. Where does that charge come from if not from a residue of affiliation, of ideological complicity, of guilt?

So, fine, I won’t call that bad faith. I’ll call it confusion instead, and await your riposte.

NB Reilly: I have no desire to accuse you of bad faith, and I also think it’s odd that you should say “fine, whatever” about the possibility that I might accuse you of it, as though that sort of accusation is a trivial thing. I don’t think it’s trivial at all, especially when the “real” motive being ascribed to people is bigotry, but since I think that you’re ultimately motivated by a noble desire to protect religious freedom, I’m less offended by your having accused me of bad faith than I might otherwise have been. (Just as a general rule, though, I think it’s a good idea to call people bigots only when there’s really no other reasonable interpretation of why they’ve done or said what they’ve done or said. Not, as I see it, a condition that obtains in the case of the ADL’s statement or my support for it.) I _don’t_ think judgments of taste are entirely arbitrary. At the very least, it’s likely that more people would agree that having the Islamic Center at distance x from Ground Zero would be more offensive than having it at distance y, and at distance z even fewer people would object. Cordoba House’s organizers shouldn’t be _required by law_ to take account of any of that (such a requirement would infringe their religious freedom) but maybe they ought to look to their consciences, and do something the law doesn’t/shouldn’t require them to do. I’m sure some people would, as you say, interpret CH’s organizers’ building the Center a bit further away as implicit support for the idea that they have something to feel guilty about. But I don’t think most people, or most reasonable people, would interpret it in that way. I wouldn’t. The ADL wouldn’t. I bet even most Republicans (gasp!) wouldn’t. And CH’s pressing on with the project at its current proposed location in the face of the criticism they’ve received is a course of action open to interpretation as well; it’s not as though they have nothing to lose by doing _that,_ if others’ feelings matter to them.

Hershl says:

Overlooked in all the noise is an even more astounding thing.

The guy who tried to blow up LA International Airport on Millenium Day ( 2000) has now requested US asylum. Unbelievable? The judge is considering his request seriously!! That’s unbelievable!

Michael says:

I can’t believe the headline: “Anti-bigotry group sides with people it calls bigots.”

Are you implying that someone who opposes building a mosque at Ground Zero is a bigot or one who sides with bigots?


Shelly Berkley says:

Did Abe Foxman have anything to say about the Museum of Tolerance being built upon the historical Palestinian Cemetery in Jerusalem?

Shmuel says:

As an observer, I am delighted to read all of the commentary here. We are so fortunate to have the rights of public debate. There is no right or wrong in this situation but certainly a great deal of emotion. If there is a solution, perhaps it is to build an Interfaith Chapel where the three great religions of Abraham can celebrate together and learn how to heal their rifts?

Martin K says:

Can someone explain this to me, please: What does the ADL have to do with this issue at all?

I actually agree with Fnord that this is a disturbing development because of the sponsors of the campaign against the community center (not mosque) in downtown NY (not Ground Zero). Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer made this campaign from the bottom up, and those guys are pure haters. A paralel is a group of skinheads opposing a synagogue getting full on support from the Democrats. ADL has by this chosen a far far right position, wich plays into the Al Quaeda/Hagee scenario of a war between Islkam and the West. Onbe would think that the ADL of all organizations would see that their endorsment of the position of these haters gives them a huge credibility. Now we have Palin, Gingrich and the ADL officially opposing freedom of worship and mobrule over rule of law. We have a situation where “peoples feelings” are to be given supremacy over the constitution. Its insane, I dont understand it. (But according to Lee Smith, I guess that makes me a Jew-baiter?)


Funny you should mention the ADL’s position on the Armenian genocide. I wonder if anyone has noticed how cynically placating Turkey for the sake of Israel’s security, and at the expense of victims of genocide didn’t work. I wonder if anyone will notice when cynically placating a bunch right-wing xenophobes, including a few Jews but mostly non-Jews with anti-semitic tendencies like Sarah Palin, ends up backfiring.

Foxman, Podhoretz, and their ilk are paradoxically attempting to sell Jews into bondage for the sake of Isarel.

Argamon says:

ADL has outlived its usefullness. It should have been out front condeming this Muslim strategy of Hajira, and Oliver Stone’s “apology should have been spurned with contempt. Resign and Disband!

david d writes: “Foxman, Podhoretz, and their ilk are paradoxically attempting to sell Jews into bondage for the sake of Israel.” Yes, of course. If one thinks that an Islamic Center should be a built a bit further away from Ground Zero than where Cordoba House is planned to be built, that’s “selling Jews into bondage for the sake of Israel.” I’m sorry – the logic there’s opaque to me.
The ADL took the wrong position on the Armenian genocide, that’s true enough. But it’s not clear what’s meant by saying that its doing so, beyond being wrong, “didn’t work.” If Erdogan hadn’t come to power in Turkey and relations with Israel were still good, would the ADL’s position on the Armenian genocide have been right? I don’t think _that’s_ what you mean to suggest. Maybe you mean to say that because it made (not only a moral but also, at least in hindsight,) a strategic blunder then, the ADL should be careful not to make a strategic blunder now. That’s sound advice, but I don’t see how what it’s doing now is a strategic blunder, or how the most plausible interpretation of what it’s doing is “cynically placating a bunch of right-wing xenophobes.” Anyway, two can play at that sort of speculative game: given some of Cordoba House’s imam’s utterances, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that _support_ for Cordoba House will turn out to have been a strategic blunder. That there’s a morally problematic aspect to it is clear enough already.

lovelyisraelis says:

Funny. The Iraqi people don’t seem to have time for these learned debates about what sort of monuments ought to be built where, and what might offend someone’s sensitive feelings.

They are too busy dealing with the results of the US-Israel war of aggression against their country that left not 3000 but over one MILLION of their countrymen dead, along with incalculable human suffering and horror and their homeland torn to pieces.

And still you whine about “Islamic terrorism” and 9/11!

It’s really quite nauseating.

When a group of nuns opened a convent next to the site of Auschwitz, the Jewish community condemed it and the Pope ordered it removed, correctly intuiting that was insenstive to place a convent there against the wishes of the survivors whose friends and relatives had been murdered there. To build a Mosque so close to Ground Zero is similarly insensitive. To me, it feels like they are giving the finger to NYC and the USA. There are many other sites in Manhattan to build a mosque if you have the funds that this mosque has available to it.

Please consider signing our open letter to the organizers of Park51:

Dorothy Wachsstock says:

I am late in catching up on reading the Tablet but notice that I always read it. I am surprised at some of the stupidity of the people who reply and do not know why the Mosque must be on Ground Zero to satisfy our enemies.

It is the same as they did in Spain when the Muslims conquered the Spaniards. They need to overlook the ground they vanquished. This is the reason.

Pay attention liberals, this is not a matter of religion. Islam is a political movement and under the quise of our tolerance are creeping into our FBI, CIA, and all other government offices.

If we do not wake up now, we will end up like Brittain but now Germany is awakening. People must speak German and we should have English as our official language.

People that want to come and be part of this country should become Americans and practice their religion at home. That will be their freedom but do not impose their religion on us which is what is happening.

There are 200 Mosques in New York City. 1 more Mosque 12 blocks from another one is not necessary. There are no Muslims in that area now..but the plot is to buy up all the land surrounding it ..sell it to Muslims and there is a Muslim community over hallowed ground.

The Japanese do not have a shrine at Pearl Harbor.

Many of the above have been said before but read Muslim Mafia and you will see what it means and the plans the Muslim community has for our country. Germany has awakened.

Why did the Jewish people living in Boca Raton, Fla. allow a Mosque built right next door to a synagogue? Find out. There are 8 Mosques in that araa so why next door to two synagogues?

I thought you might like this :)

Spelling is a lossed art. :)

This is just what I’ve been looking for all the time. Don’t stop updating this web site.

I’ve said that least 4235123 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean


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ADL Comes Out Against Ground Zero Center

Anti-bigotry group sides with people it calls bigots

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