The Crescent Report

August 3, 2010

Prominent Rabbis Support Challenge of the ADL and Support Cordoba Institute Mosque in Lower Manhattan.

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 3:26 pm

Prominent faith leaders (Rabis) within the Jewish community have demonstrated that, like the Muslim community, we are monotheistic, not monolithic. Many Jewish religious and lay leaders, as well as civil rights activists, have taken strong exception to the position that Mr. Abe Foxman and the ADL have taken an opposition to the building of an Islamic center in downtown Manhattan (approx. 2 1/2 blocks from ground zero). For an organization like the ADL, who has prided itself on defending religious liberties and fighting prejudice and discrimination, their rationale for not supporting the right of Muslims to build an Islamic center in lower Manhattan is indeed inconsistent and should be troubling to anyone who values the cherished principle of American religious freedom. Check out the piece below. -Imam Mahdi Bray

There is a perception among many Americans that the Anti-Defamation League has the authority to speak for the entire American Jewish community on matters related to civil rights and opposition to bigotry.  But when the ADL issued a statement opposing the plans to build the so-called “Ground Zero” mosque in lower Manhattan, their declaration was met by opposition from some 31 distinguished Rabbis and Jewish organizational leaders who believe that the ADL’s position contradicts the basic tenets of both Judaism and Islam.

The Rabbis who signed the statement of support for the Cordoba Initiative project include Rabbi Arthur Waskow, head of the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center and a past recipient of a MAS Freedom human rights award, and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, a member of the MAS human rights delegation that visited Sudan and Darfur in June, 2005.

These distinguished leaders, representing Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, and Renewal Jewish congregations and organizations, noted that the spirit of Islam acknowledges the oneness of the Creator, and embraces the idea of respect and tolerance for members of other faith communities.  Moreover, the rabbis stated, the very name of the Cordoba Initiative points to a period during the Muslim domination of Spain (711-1492 of the Christian Era) when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.  The Rabbis concluded that the ADL opposition to the building of the mosque could very well encourage the same kind of religious intolerance that the organization has dedicated itself to eradicate.

The statement from these prominent Jewish leaders reads below:
“As  Jews committed to religious freedom, to honest dialogue, to peacemaking, and to the celebration of the One God, we strongly support the plans of the Cordoba Initiative to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center at the tip of Manhattan, near the site of the World Trade Centers destroyed on 9/11/01.
The Cordoba Initiative took that name precisely to celebrate the history of that city and neighboring areas of Andalusia in what is now Spain, where for centuries Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived together not only in mutual tolerance but in mutual harmony.

The leaders of the Córdoba Initiative, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan, have written and spoken innumerable times about the importance of interfaith dialogue and shared work for peace among the Abrahamic communities. They have planned the mosque not simply because they have a “right” to build there, but because they want it to be a beacon of Muslim peacemaking in direct critique of the terrorist violence that destroyed the Twin Towers on 9/11/01.

To affirm that we support the building of the Cordoba Initiative cultural center and mosque, we invite all Jews of good will who can physically gather at noon on Thursday, August 5, at its intended site at  45 Park Place, to join voices in a serious and devoted vigil.  (Take #1 subway to Park Place.)

At the same time, we think it necessary to make clear our deep distress at the decision of the Anti-Defamation League to oppose these plans. Though the ADL has often done good work, in this specific case — whatever its intention — it has undermined those very adherents of Islam who uphold the Quran’s teachings of peace, who condemn terrorism, and who share with some Jews, some Christians, and some others a commitment to peaceful dialogue.
The ADL’s action disparages Islam’s commitment to the Unity of God. And it risks encouraging hatred for all of Islam by Jews and others in American society.
 This behavior by the ADL cannot be justified on the basis of the hostile reactions of some New Yorkers – a minority of the nearby neighborhood — while the neighborhood community council and hundreds of family members of the dead of 9/11 have endorsed the mosque.   The ADL’s action may indeed help to fire up exactly those unthinking emotions filled with rage and ignorance.
So we also invite Jews to call the Anti-Defamation League to join in briefly, politely, and firmly asking the ADL to change its position.  Its phone number is 212/885-7700. To reach the office of Abraham Foxman, its director, press “1” and then enter “Fox.” ”



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