Saturday, August 7, 2010

ADL Should Not Oppose Mosques at Ground Zero

I am really surprised with this article from Alan Dershowitz.
Great that common sense finally made home in his heart

Mike Ghouse

The ADL's decision to oppose the building of a 13-story Muslim center two blocks from Ground Zero is inconsistent with its mission. The ADL has a long and distinguished history of opposing bigotry, supporting multiculturalism and advocating tolerance. Though it began as an organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, it has become one of the most potent forces against all forms of religious, ethnic and racial bigotry. Following the mass murders perpetrated on 9/11 by Islamic extremists, the ADL was in the forefront of standing up against those who would use this hateful attack to generalize hatred against all Muslims or all Arabs.

In light of this history, I would have expected the ADL to support the building of this Muslim community center, which would include a mosque, a performing arts center, a pool and a restaurant. At the very least I would have expected it to remain silent and not to lend its powerful and distinguished voice to an opposition that includes many bigots along with many decent people who have expressed legitimate concerns about the structure.

Reasonable people can disagree about the merits of building a Muslim center so close to the sight of a horrendous crime committed in the name of Islam by extremists who do not represent their religion. Many Jews were deeply offended when a Roman Catholic covenant was built adjacent to Auschwitz.

Supporters argue that the proximity of the mosque to the site of this crime sends a powerful message that there are many Muslims in the world who identify with the victims rather than the perpetrators. The most influential opposition comes from families of many of the victims who were killed at Ground Zero, though some families favor the project and others have remained silent.

Let the debate continue, but let the ADL not lend its imprimatur of tolerance to those who stand in opposition. Inevitably, this has become a political debate, with rightwing Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich leading the political campaign against it, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg has strongly supported the project on grounds of religious freedom, arguing that government should have no role in dictating where a mosque can be situated. As Bloomberg put it, "what is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us? Democracy is stronger than this..."

The ADL's decision to join this debate on the side of those who oppose the mosque was exacerbated by the reason given by Abe Foxman, a friend and a man who I admire, for why the opposition of some families was an important part of why the ADL came down against the project. Mr. Foxman, who himself survived the Holocaust, was quoted in The New York Times as follows:

"Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational," he said. Referring to the loved ones of the 9/11 victims, he said, "Their anguish entitles them to a position that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted."
This is a dangerous argument that has implications totally inconsistent with the mission of the ADL. Bigotry is often a result of victimization, perceived or real. Many Germans felt victimized following World War I, and some blamed the Jews. Although their position was "irrational or bigoted," they were not entitled to act on it. Nor are Palestinians who feel victimized by Israel entitled to be bigoted against Jews. There is simply is no excuse for bigotry, and the ADL ought to know that better than any other organization.

The ADL was founded as the result of irrational bigotry directed against a Jew named Leo Frank by a Ku Klux Klan type organization calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan. They lynched Leo Frank in the name of an alleged victim of rape and murder. The fact that Frank was totally innocent didn't matter to them. Their anguish over her victimization did not entitle them to their irrationality and bigotry. The ADL should know better than to provide an "abuse excuse" to bigots based on perceived victimization.

The vast majority of those who oppose the mosque at Ground Zero are neither bigoted nor irrational. Some are. So are some who favor it. That is not the issue. The issue is whether a great human rights organization should oppose the building of a Muslim center near Ground Zero. I have heard no rational reason from the ADL why it should stand in opposition to this project.

I hope that Abe Foxman was misquoted or misspoke and that he will withdraw both his opposition to the mosque and most especially the argument he offered for it. The ADL should continue with its noble mission of siding with the victims of bigotry rather than making excuses for those who engage in bigotry.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.