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New York, America, and Jews At Their Finest

Support for Cordoba House is an affirmation of our values

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaking yesterday.(Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

Look, I know The Scroll has felt like it’s been entirely about the Ground Zero controversy, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Clinton-Mezvinsky, and I am sorry (hey, at least we’re not one of those news outlets actually giving Brett Favre’s Hamlet-esque waffling any attention—oh, wait). I will make it up to you, with a post later today about Israel’s northern border (right after a new Clinton-Mezvinsky post, natch). But, I mean, did you read Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s speech?

In the mid-1650s, the small Jewish community living in lower Manhattan petitioned Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant for the right to build a synagogue, and they were turned down. In 1657, when Stuyvesant also prohibited Quakers from holding meetings, a group of non-Quakers in Queens signed the Flushing Remonstrance, a petition in defense of the right of Quakers and others to freely practice their religion. It was perhaps the first formal political petition for religious freedom in the American colonies, and the organizer was thrown in jail and then banished from New Amsterdam.

In the 1700s, even as religious freedom took hold in America, Catholics in New York were effectively prohibited from practicing their religion, and priests could be arrested. Largely as a result, the first Catholic parish in New York City was not established until the 1780s, St. Peter’s on Barclay Street, which still stands just one block north of the World Trade Center site, and one block south of the proposed mosque and community center. …

On Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of first responders heroically rushed to the scene and saved tens of thousands of lives. More than 400 of those first responders did not make it out alive. In rushing into those burning buildings, not one of them asked, “What God do you pray to?” [Bloomberg's voice cracks here a little as he gets choked up.] “What beliefs do you hold?”

Bloomberg also makes the libertarian argument that these are private citizens going through democratic channels to achieve a private, Constitutionally protected goal. This argument is also an explanation for what Cordoba House opponents can do next: Not much. The building isn’t landmarked, the neighborhood is already appropriately zoned, and while one conservative group says they are going to appeal the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision, its decisions are final. Anything local government did to try to intervene would almost certainly be unconstitutional. Besides, “local government”—the community board, the borough president, and, of course, the mayor—supports the mosque.

Surely it isn’t irrelevant that the mayor and the borough president (Scott Stringer) are both Jewish? Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the macher behind the Islamic center (which is explicitly modeled on Jewish Community Centers), doesn’t think so: “I express my heartfelt appreciation for the gestures of goodwill and support from our Jewish friends and colleagues,” he said yesterday. “Your support is a reflection of the great history of mutual cooperation and understanding that Jewish and Muslim civilizations have shared in the past, and remains a testament to the enduring success of our continuing dialogue and dedication to upholding religious freedom, tolerance and cooperation among us all as Americans.”

Clearly this display of ecumenical tolerance and generousness and courage is very un-American.

Mayor Bloomberg Stands Up for Mosque [NY Daily News]
Mosqued Crusaders
[Slate]
‘Ground Zero Mosque’ Imam Thanks U.S. Jews for Support [Haaretz]
Earlier: Landmarks Commission Clears Islamic Center

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HaSoferet says:

I wish I didn’t believe that we are all being terribly naive about the purpose of this mosque/cultural center.

I think the Ground Zero location and the use of the name Cordoba (the Caliphate created when the Muslims conquered Spain) will represent a symbol of victory to the Jihadists…i.e. ‘see we knocked down your symbol of power and replaced it with the symbol of our once and future hegemony.’

I’m quite certain the people behind this project know exactly what they’re doing and what it symbolizes. Unfortunately our liberalism sometimes comes at the expense of common sense.

I hadn’t considered that the name “Cordoba House” could be an indication that all Muslims are Jihadists who want to conquer us! And they are SO crafty, they’re naming the center after a city in Spain in which Jews (and Christians) were granted religious freedom under Muslim rule, created a thriving intellectual sphere and were integrated into the city’s cultural life! When the Caliphate fell, Jews (like Maimonides) fled to Egypt and other locales, and then Christians took over and the expulsion happened in 1492, but hey, it’s ALL PART OF THE JIHADISTS crafty plan, naming the mosque after a tolerant, pluralistic Spanish city! They are SNEAKY that way!

Also I note that Michael Bloomberg is an anagram for “Global Commie Herb.” I rest my case.

Lisa Kaiser says:

Can’t help but be proud of Michael Bloomberg

Doug Greener says:

This is not a freedom of religion issue. The examples you give of the Jews, Quakers and Catholics not being able to practice their religion are completely irrelevant! The opponents of Cordoba House (what a rub-it-in-your-face name) are not saying that Moslems can’t build mosques or pray in New York City, for God’s sake. They’re just saying, “not here, not at this ground where the soldiers of Allah slaughtered thousands of New Yorkers!” This is phony liberalism and it stinks.

HaSoferet says:

Marjorie,

I believe what is missing from “naming the mosque after a tolerant, pluralistic Spanish city! ” are the words ‘under Muslim rule.’

HaSoferet says:

BTW I think the tone of this controversy would get a lot more civil if so many people didn’t assume that everyone who objects to Cordoba House is a bigot. You don’t want people to assume that every Muslim is a terrorist. Why assume that everyone who has a differing opinion is bigot? Surely reasonable people can disagree without name calling.

David says:

“Liberal Piety and the Memory of 9/11″ by-DOROTHY RABINOWITZ

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703545604575407160266158170.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

“The question today is whether Americans of any era have ever confronted the bombardment of hectoring and sermonizing now directed at those whose views are deemed insufficiently enlightened—an offense regularly followed by accusations that the offenders have violated the most sacred principles of our democracy.

There is no better exemplar of that faith than New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, though in this he is hardly alone. Compared with the Obama White House, Mr. Bloomberg is a piker in the preachments and zealotry department. Still, no voice brings home more unforgettably the attitudes that speak for today’s enlightened and progressive class.

It’s hard to know the sort of rabble the mayor had in mind when he told a television interviewer, prior to Shahzad’s identification, that it “could be anything,” someone mentally disturbed, or “somebody with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health-care bill.”

Namely, how is it that the planners, who have presented this effort as a grand design for the advancement of healing and interfaith understanding, have refused all consideration of the impact such a center will have near Ground Zero? Why have they insisted, despite intense resistance, on making the center an assertive presence in this place of haunted memory?

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser—devout Muslim, physician, former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy—says there is every reason to investigate the center’s funding under the circumstances. Of the mosque so near the site of the 9/11 attacks, he notes “It will certainly be seen as a victory for political Islam.””

Like I mention before, this group has every legal right to build there, but the real question is it right? I think its in bad taste to build there, but what do I know, I’m not at enlighten as…

David says:

…some people.

I think that the Cordoba House people have every right to build their center/mosque/whatever. I would die to defend that right. And yet, I don’t think they are making the right choice – its insensitive and thoughtless. I think their stated cause will ultimately suffer because of it. There was a way here to be really stand-up guys about it – not to mention smart fundraisers (“well, if you want us to do it somewhere else, how about someone give us a really big break on rent?”)

If this does end up being an extremist mosque, there will be massive harm done to the cause of moderate Muslims in America. I think there is a legitimate funding question here, but in the absence of clear evidence of any extremist connections, there can’t and shouldn’t be any interference.

In actual operation, I’m not sure of the logic of a community center that far downtown – does anyone live there? That might end up causing the project to fail, religious freedom or not, you need member….

Lisa Kaiser says:

DG, I agree with your assessment. Yes, the Cordoba House can be located where it is and yes it is an insensitive move.

Beth says:

HaSoferet:

Yes, a city under Muslim rule. It is a Muslim Community Center. What would you expect them to name it? Would we name a JCC “the Mecca JCC”?! Of course not! We name our JCCs after prominent Jews and Jewish places.

HaSoferet says:

Beth,

I think the symbolism of that particular name is a problem.

And wouldn’t we all like to see a Mecca JCC regardless of its name. But that would mean that Jews would have to be allowed to visit that fair city first.

Beth, would you have any problem with a “From the River to the Sea” JCC? It’s just a reference to a famous Jewish territory from the past–right?

HaSoferet says:

That would be the JCC with the Stern Gang library, no?

Better still, a “Nile to the Euphrates” JCC…

Dani Levi says:

How about building ONE church or a synagogue in Saudi, Just ONE, go ahead , make my day. Oh but wait! There are no Jews and Christians in Saudi……it is a visa thing I hear.
I can not wait until the next Muslim blows up something in NYC.
Shalom Mofos!

Daniel Klein says:

Ah, so the reason we don’t want s mosque is “because they started it?” nice.

TheDevilCanDance says:

Dani Levi

What about practicing at home (in Israel) what you preach for Saudi Arabia?.Tolerance and respect of other faiths…..

Christians get regularly spat upon and physically aggressed in Jerusalem. The Judeo-Taliban have no credibility at lecturing anyone.

HaSoferet says:

Wow…so many groups of which I am a part, it’s just overwhelming: I can’t decide which I like best. I used to revel in being just a Christ Killer and a member of the International Jewish/Zionist Conspiracy, but now I can add Judeo-Taliban and Nazi filth to my portfolio. Cool!

Aliza says:

Judeo-Taliban? Well I guess I earned that after all WE did fly those planes into the Twi…oh wait…that wasn’t us. Well you know we do make our women wear burq,,,oops…wrong again. Maybe its the stoning of adult…okay…sorry. I know it must the whole girl circumsi…nopes…Okay, I got it now…I’m cat-called Judeo-Taliban because someone is clearly antisemitic, any other argument is mostly window dressing for this hateful. intolerant, racism. Thirty one flavores of Helen Thomas.

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New York, America, and Jews At Their Finest

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