Frank Gehry can’t be found on controversial J’lem project’s website

on 57 Comments

You’ll recall that the Simon Wiesenthal Center has pushed ahead with plans to build a "Museum of Tolerance" in Jerusalem, hard by a historic Muslim cemetery called Mamilla. The plans, with architect Frank Gehry’s name attached, have drawn criticism from Muslim and Jewish leaders, architecture critics, you name it, especially as the museum is dedicated to breeding tolerance among Israel’s diverse populations while ignoring the most important group, Muslims.

Well a friend points me to this page at the Wiesenthal Center site which says that the Museum of Tolerance/Jerusalem page is temporarily suspended, under construction. My friend says that the page used to boom Gehry, who had signed on to the project. The speculation runs that all the pressure has gotten to architect Frank Gehry and that he has withdrawn his commitment to design the museum. I’ll follow up when I’m back in the States…

57 Responses

  1. MRW
    January 6, 2010, 12:42 am

    Someone gave a link to a discussion in Australia about this museum and the cemetery it sat on that started with Antony Lowenstein and — jesus, I’m so sorry I dont remember the name of the Palestinian guy who gave the report — but I watched the whole thing and it was fascinating. If Gehry did pull out, good for him.

    • rahim
      January 6, 2010, 7:02 am

      MRW – You’re thinking of Saree Makdisi, Professor of English at UCLA (He’s also the nephew of Edward Said). Here’s a link to the lecture you were talking about:

      link to

      as well as a link to the video itself, with Antony Loewenstein introducing:

      link to

      Makdisi’s lecture is really useful for understanding just how mendacious this “Museum of Tolerance” actually is.

      • MRW
        January 6, 2010, 9:05 am

        Not only the mendacity, Rahim, but the pugnaciousness of the design offended my sense of aesthetics as well.

  2. Rehmat
    January 6, 2010, 1:55 am

    Well – like every other Israeli Hasbara (propaganda) outlet – the so-called ‘Museum of tolerance’ must be protected for being exposed. Such Museums have been built all over Europe (mostly paid by the the taxpayers’ money) – and they do display the ‘tolerance’ towards the tragedies of many people – from Afghanistan to Tibet, but the only ‘tolerance’ missing is the plight of Palestinians.

    Former US Vice-president Spiro Agnew was quoted as saying: “The people who own and manage national impact media are Jewish, and with other influencial Jews, helped create a disastrous Mideast policy….. Our policy in the Middle East to my judgement is disastrous, because it’s not even handed. I see no reason why nearly half of the foreign aid this country has to give goes to Israel, except for the influence of this Zionist Lobby. I think the power of the news media is in the hands of a few people. It’s not a subject to control of the voters, it’s subject only to the whim of the board of directors….”

    link to

    • Citizen
      January 6, 2010, 11:52 am

      The Museum of Tolerance (no irony there) is mostly being paid for by American Jews who write it off as a charitable deduction from the income tax they would otherwise have to pay and the NGOs involved pay no USA taxes either; hence, it is, as so much of Israel, subsidized by US goy taxpayers. The fun of it is that those goy taxpayers don’t even know it. Can’t get better than that.

      • Mooser
        January 6, 2010, 12:22 pm

        C’mon, citizen, I know that if you extend just the littlest bit effort, you could eliminate the word “goy” from your writing. I did it, and I loved that word.
        And, BTW, on you, it doesn’t look good. Yes, I know the old joke about the secretary and her boss (Boss:”Ms. Smith, there are two words I want you to eliminate from your business conversations. One is “swell” and the other is “lousy”” Ms. Smith: “Sure thing Boss, now, what are they?”) but do it just for Moosie.

  3. Shmuel
    January 6, 2010, 3:45 am

    It’s ok. They aren’t like us you see. They don’t love their children and they don’t care about their dead. They just oppose this wonderful humanitarian project because they hate us. They hate us for our tolerance, for the love we have for our children and for the respect we have for our dead. What a fitting place for a structure that will show the difference between us and them. We will show the world that we are willing to tolerate Palestinian graves in our parks and under our museums.

  4. wondering jew
    January 6, 2010, 5:02 am

    When the culprits are Jews who Hebraicized their names, we can be sure that Phil Weiss will inform us of their original names. But when the hero is a Jew who changed his name from Goldberg to Gehry to gain acceptance in gentile society, you can be sure that Phil Weiss will leave this information out.

    (For the record I am opposed to building a museum on a Muslim cemetery, unless the Muslim community is willing to have the cemetery moved.)

    • Saleema
      January 6, 2010, 8:03 am

      have the cometary moved? If moving cemeteries is acceptable in Jewish philosophy then perhaps one of the Jewish cemeteries can be moved to accommodate the damn museum.

      • Psychopathic god
        January 6, 2010, 10:23 am

        excellent suggestion, Saleema.

        Perhaps Auschwitz can be moved to Wasilla, and the vacated space dedicated to a housing development for Aaarab Isslam-o-faascists.

    • Oscar
      January 6, 2010, 8:24 am

      WJ — sometimes I agree with you, but this time, your post is way off-base. Whether Gehry changed his name from Goldberg is immaterial. The issue (and still and open inquiry) is whether the pressure compelled him to have the conscience to take his name off the project.

      I’m stunned that you would propose the Muslim community “move” an entire cemetary. Imagine the global press attention if the tables were turned and the remains of hundreds of Jews were to be moved to make room for a Muslim museum.

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 8:42 am

        Oscar, I don’t think WJ was actually proposing that the cemetery be moved, but that the Muslim community should have the final say. A reasonable approach. Nevertheless, I think he misses the point if he thinks its all about a museum or finding a local solution to a specific problem (see my post below on the system of dispossession).

      • wondering jew
        January 6, 2010, 8:57 am

        Gehry’s decision is fine in my point of view. And I really don’t think Phil should mention name changes from European-American Jewish names to Hebraicized names. I was just using the opportunity of someone who changed their name in a direction that does not catch Phil’s notice, but did catch mine, to point out how misplaced name change comments seem to me.

      • wondering jew
        January 6, 2010, 8:58 am

        It was an attempt to take a poke at Phil Weiss, not to take a poke at Frank Gehry.

      • potsherd
        January 6, 2010, 9:51 am

        Gratuitous and spiteful of you, don’t you think?

        And deflecting the discussion away from the sins of the Wiesenthal group.

      • Psychopathic god
        January 6, 2010, 10:29 am

        it struck me once when I read an essay wherein someone named “Feldman” complained that he was targeted by an antisemite “because I have a Jewish name.”

        “Feldman” is NOT a Jewish name, certainly not a Semitic name; it is a German.

        And that is part of the offense: Jewish people have claimed as their own the legacy of the German people. Would Jews be pissed off if, say, Moldovians, declared themselves the heirs of the ancient Hebrew inheritance?

      • Mooser
        January 6, 2010, 12:29 pm

        Still, though, you really gotta wonder where a completely ridiculous name like “Zwick” came from. Gosh, maybe Wonderful Jew can tell me if that is a “Jewish” name or a Hebracised or Gentilised name. It’s all so confusing!
        Gosh, how I miss that deep-down certainty ziocaine brings to everything!

    • Citizen
      January 6, 2010, 11:54 am

      Ah, the wiki piece ascribes Gehry’s change of name to the nagging of his first wife. Not sure how much this implicates growing up in anti-semitic Canada and alighting in anti-semitic USA….

    • Mooser
      January 6, 2010, 12:25 pm

      “But when the hero is a Jew who changed his name from Goldberg to Gehry to gain acceptance in gentile society,”

      Is that what he told you? Frankly I would have picked something like “Smith” or “Brown” or something.
      Gosh Wonderful Jew, how much did you have to prod him before he admitted it?
      Or is that just another ziocaine hallucination?

      • wondering jew
        January 6, 2010, 3:27 pm

        There was a documentary on PBS in which Gehry said he changed his name (on his first wife’s prodding) so as not to have such a Jewish sounding name.

  5. Shmuel
    January 6, 2010, 5:17 am

    WJ: (For the record I am opposed to building a museum on a Muslim cemetery, unless the Muslim community is willing to have the cemetery moved.)

    A principled position. There is a further issue here however, and that is that the land was expropriated by Israel in 1948, and sold (by the Custodian for Absentee Property) to the Jerusalem Municipality, in 1992. The cemetery is currently a public park, with a road through it and a parking lot at its edge. The “Museum of Tolerance” is thus not only desecrating the site further, but is also being built on stolen Palestinian land.

    Whether Jerusalem actually needs an institution promoting Hier’s brand of “tolerance” is yet another question.

  6. Julian
    January 6, 2010, 6:16 am

    “The MOT-Jerusalem has been criticized for its location adjacent to a Muslim cemetery, one of the most important Muslim cemeteries in the region. The Mamilla cemetery contains the graves of many important Islamic saints and scholars, as well as several Mamluk tombs.[2][3] The SWC counters that the cemetery was long ago deconsecrated by Islamic leaders, and that secular Arab leaders prior to the creation of the State of Israel had planned various development projects there.[4] During Turkish rule, graves were moved from the cemetery to build a hotel. The hotel still stands, and is being renovated by Waldorf-Astoria. This argument has in turn been challenged in the Israeli legal system, but the argument was rejected by Israel’s high court.”
    link to

    • Shmuel
      January 6, 2010, 6:48 am

      If you could provide a better source than a passing Jerusalem Post reference in a Wiki article, I’d be interested to know whether the whole area was deconsecrated, whether such deconsecration is effective in perpetuity, and whether it is unconditional – i.e. independent of the use to which the land is put.

      Of course, communities are free to deconsecrate their hallowed grounds as they see fit. It is another matter entirely when that land is stolen by others (expropriated as “absentee property” in 1948) and used for their own purposes. Another important element here is the fact that Israel doesn’t really give a damn whether it’s been deconsecrated or not – having demolished or transformed scores of mosques and Muslim cemeteries throughout Palestine.

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2010, 7:43 am

        Here’s some history on the museum of intolerance project:
        link to

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2010, 7:52 am

        And a chronicle of the ancient cemetery:
        link to

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 8:05 am

        Thank you, Citizen. Excellent summaries of the duplicity of the Israeli authorities (Jerusalem Municipality, High Court, Custodian of Absentee Property, etc.) in this particular case (only one of many) of disposession and eradication of Palestinian presence and memory in Jerusalem and Palestine.

        I haven’t been back to Jerusalem in a couple of years, so I don’t know the extent of the damage first hand, but the part of cemetery that was preserved was always one of my favourite spots – green, cool, quiet, beautiful. The MOT project will also deprive Jerusalem of important green space, and is part of the Mussolini-style “disneylandification” of the city in general and the area around the Old City in particular (the entire Mamilla area is emblematic).

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 8:32 am

        I would like to connect this thread to the recent threads on Sheikh Jarrah and Ma’ale Adumim, and the slightly less recent thread on new construction near Gilo. These are not isolated issues – each with their own rationale and excuses. They are part of a project, a system, a concerted effort to destroy not only Palestinian life in Jerusalem and its surroundings, but all physical evidence of Palestinian history and connection to the city. To do so in the name of “tolerance” just shows how brazen, deluded and power-drunk these people are.

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2010, 9:07 am

        Here’s more on Israel’s larger hidden agenda:
        link to

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 9:37 am

        Good article. I would add that it’s all part of identity and nation-building – especially in a divided, homogenous society with a relatively new and weak sense of commonality. I mentioned Mussolini above, and I think the parallel, particularly with regard to Jerusalem, is not a bad one. Mussolini tried to forge a common Italian identity in a country barely 50 years old, where large parts of the population had different histories, mentalities and even languages. He turned to the history and mythology of ancient Rome (the last time most of the Italian peninsula had been more or less united), trying to recreate, in a kitschy (and bloody) sort of way, the glory of the ancient Empire.

        One look at the Mamilla project in Jerusalem, and the first thing that comes to mind for anyone who knows Rome, is EUR, Viale dei Fori Imperiali (including the stone maps of the Empire), or Piazza Augusto Imperatore – a kind of grandiose, neo-classical (or “neo-Herodian”) architecture intended to evoke ahistorical notions of national/ethnic continuity and destiny.

        Fascist propaganda at its finest, except for the fact that that kind of Fascism is so early 20th century. Yet Israelis, Birthrighters and other Zionist tourists seem to lap it up, and they are, after all, the primary target audience.

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2010, 10:18 am

        You’re right Schmuel. It seems people never extract from history basic manipulative principles that always end up with a net loss for humanity as a whole, and, invariably, for those true believing locals and those they demonize. I guess that’s the central appeal of Fascism, wrapped in endless supplies of flags and appeal to some mythic past. It seems an awkward fit for the stars and stripes and the Jewish hexagon flag echoing the prayer shawl–always hard to see why and how others see you.

      • Psychopathic god
        January 6, 2010, 10:37 am

        repeating, just to keep the documentation of the “concerted effort” by an Israeli author, in plain sight:

        link to
        A groundbreaking exposé of Israel’s terrifying reconceptualization of geopolitics in the Occupied Territories and beyond.

        Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation is a groundbreaking exploration of the political space created by Israel’s colonial occupation. In this journey from the deep subterranean spaces of the West Bank and Gaza to their militarized airspace, Weizman unravels Israel’s mechanisms of control and its transformation of the Occupied Territories into a theoretically constructed artifice, in which natural and built features function as the weapons and ammunition with which the conflict is waged. Weizman traces the development of these ideas, from the influence of archaeology on urban planning, Ariel Sharon’s reconceptualization of military defense during the 1973 war, through the planning and architecture of the settlements, to contemporary Israeli discourse and practice of urban warfare. In exploring Israel’s methods to transform the landscape itself into a tool of total domination and control, Hollow Land lays bare the political system at the heart of this complex and terrifying project of late-modern colonial occupation.

        Mooser suggested that the book be sent to Jesse Fox, an Israeli urban planner who was among those profiled in the Mondoweiss “Anti-zionist” series. Thank you for the suggestion, Mooser.

      • Mooser
        January 6, 2010, 12:33 pm

        Same exact thing happened in Japan, before WW2, well, it actually got its biggest push from the invasion of China by Japan.
        Gotta admit, we Jews are not the only ones for a talent for making up “eternal” and “historical” inventions.

      • Mooser
        January 6, 2010, 12:38 pm

        Anyway, is Shmuel a treasure, or what? Are we lucky to have him commenting so often, why, yes we are!

      • Taxi
        January 6, 2010, 12:41 pm

        Hip hip hurray Shmuel!

        You shiny shiny treasure!

      • Mooser
        January 6, 2010, 1:25 pm

        He, unlike me, has been there, and come a long way. He knows, and has, as far as I can tell, put a lot of effort into being able to explicate the issues and situations involved in a clear and understandable way, (and in more than one language! Such a head!)
        For me, it was a visceral reaction, which came very soon after I was old enough to understand what Zionism entailed. But more than anything else, my reaction to Zionism was a reaction to what it does to the American Jews who espouse it. That was what I had contact with, and that was enough.
        And really, I was only, in my clumsy way, making explicit the decision most Jews make silently.

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 2:15 pm

        Thanks guys. You can show your appreciation by putting a little something in the hat on your way out. Seriously, tomorrow it’s back to no nonsense (paid) work, or my clients will really have me singing for my supper at the nearest metro station.

      • Taxi
        January 6, 2010, 2:25 pm

        Your cross-referencing is deep, vast and impressive.

        You’ve read all the great books that I’ m too lazy to bother with.

        Kudos again.

      • Julian
        January 6, 2010, 9:25 am

        It’s all Palaprop. They Palestinians didn’t demonstrate or even care when a hotel was built there under Turkish rule. The Arabs have a long history of desecrating Jewish cemeteries and holy sites.
        “After the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem was captured, the destruction, desecration and systematic looting of Jewish sites began and continued. 57 ancient synagogues (the oldest dated to the 13th century), libraries and centers of religious study were ransacked and 12 were totally and deliberately destroyed. Those that remained standing were defaced, used for housing of both people and animals. The city’s foremost Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum. Appeals were made to the United Nations and in the international community to declare the Old City to be an ‘open city’ and stop this destruction, but there was no response. This condition continued until Jordan lost control of Jerusalem in June 1967.”
        On the Mount of Olives, the Jordanian Arabs removed 38,000 tombstones from the ancient cemetery and used them as paving stones for roads and as construction material in Jordanian Army camps, including use as latrines. When the area was recaptured by Israel in 1967, graves were found open with the bones scattered. Parts of the cemetery were converted into parking lots, a filling station, and an asphalt road was built to cut through it. The Intercontinental Hotel was built at the top of the cemetery. Sadar Khalil, appointed by the Jordanian government as the official caretaker of the cemetery, built his home on the grounds using the stones robbed from graves. In 1967, the press published extensive photos documenting that Jewish gravestones were found in Jordanian Army camps, such as El Azariya, as well as in Palestinian walkways, steps, bathrooms, and pavement.”
        link to

        Absolutely shameful barbaric behavior. I wonder if the Palestinians have removed those gravestones from their walkways and apologized yet.

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 9:44 am

        You’re absolutely right, Julian. Palestinian graves should be descrated in the name of tolerance. As a matter of fact all the remaining mosques in Jerusalem should be demolished – in the name of love, kindness, friendship and peace. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

      • potsherd
        January 6, 2010, 9:55 am

        Oh, good, Julian supplies us with another hate site to advance intolerance.

      • Taxi
        January 6, 2010, 10:00 am

        Using F16’s to murder children while they sleep is more diabolic and barbaric than moving gravestones or bones of the dead.

        Don’t even start on the ‘who’s worse than who’ tangent – by far, the list of Israeli atrocities is already documented as being the longest and the most cruel!

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2010, 10:29 am

        And who claims to be a light to the world? Who is gifted endless US tax dollars and UN vetoes?
        Who lays claim to the USA’s highest ideals?

  7. potsherd
    January 6, 2010, 9:57 am

    This is a good reminder of the relevance and necessity of exposing Simon Wiesenthal’s mendacity, when his name is used to support such projects of intolerance and hate.

  8. Taxi
    January 6, 2010, 10:09 am

    mendacity [mɛnˈdæsɪtɪ]
    1. the tendency to be untruthful
    2. a falsehood
    [from Late Latin mendācitās, from Latin mendāx untruthful]

    Potsherd, you’re too kind to him when you use the word ‘mendacity’. Simon Wiesenthal is an out and out liar and worshiper of the golden calf.

    • Psychopathic god
      January 6, 2010, 10:39 am

      the golden calf was constructed with loot stolen from the Egyptians.

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 11:01 am

        As long as we’re taking myths (half) seriously, that loot was fair compensation for centuries of unpaid drudgery ;-)

      • Citizen
        January 6, 2010, 12:03 pm

        The History Channel has a special that covers Jewish “slavery” in ancient Egypt;
        it includes interviews with various Israeli historians and archeologists. From what I recall, the Jews were treated no differently than other conquered peoples, and, initially they were treated better, that is, as military allies of Egypt on a key border.
        Once the Egyptian regime decided the Jews should be used for the same thing other conquered peoples were used, that is, as low paid municipal workers, yet with all the governmental fringe benefits, the Jews revolted–they ended up
        raiding Egyptian towns, killing the innocent denizens, grabbing all the booty to arm and feed themselves, and hatting out of Egyptian domain. Of course, that’s just a History Channel rendition. Perhaps somebody on this blog can give us
        more information?

      • Mooser
        January 6, 2010, 12:44 pm

        I sure know I can’t and I’m sorry about it. But between all the unpaid municipal work I was doing, when the Plagues came I just starting drinking and didn’t come out of my blackout until the Red Sea closed behind us.

        For Christ’s sake, it’s a story in the Bible! You want corroboration? Write your own!

        Say, did you hear about the South American vacation Christ took? And how the Laminites invented Formica? Ask the Mormons !

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 1:13 pm

        With all due respect to the HC, it’s a myth, with virtually no extra-biblical corroboration. Imagine it whatever way you like. Personally, I was very moved by the two versions suggested by Shulamith Hareven, in her beautiful trilogy Thirst.

      • potsherd
        January 6, 2010, 1:20 pm

        I suggest you consult the works of Israel Finkelstein.

        I think that story probably referes to the Hyskos, who were probably Canaanites and definitely some Semitic tribe, who conquered Egypt and were themselves conquered.

        Canaan, thoughout much of its history, was under Egyptian occupation. The local forces were definitely used as troops in the border garrisons, as Canaan was disputed territory between Egypt and the various rulers of the Babylonian empire and its successors.

      • Shmuel
        January 6, 2010, 1:45 pm

        I’m familiar with the theory linking the Hyksos of Avaris to the ancient Hebrews, and the Exodus to their expulsion, and the restoration of the Egyptian monarchy. I am also familiar with the theory that identifies the Hebrews with the Hapiru/Apiru/Abiru mentioned in the Mari and Nuzi archives. It’s all speculation however, based on the idea that the descriptions in the Bible would appear to indicate some kernel of historical truth (Buber was a big fan of this approach, which he explains at length in Moses). Scholars such as David Daiches, on the other hand, were far less convinced.

      • Colin Murray
        January 6, 2010, 2:00 pm

        …and didn’t come out of my blackout until the Red Sea closed behind us.


      • potsherd
        January 6, 2010, 2:01 pm

        The Hyskos/Hebrews theory is a lot of fun, but alas, it apparently fails on contact with the facts.

  9. HollyTree
    January 6, 2010, 3:44 pm

    Phil, you need to know the history of this project coming from Los Angeles to know why Gehry was chosen as the architect. First, the seed planter of this project is one Gary Winnick (of Global Crossing fame) Richard Silverstein has all the info over there that I gave him last year. Winnick and Gehry are buddies, but buddies go out the window when funding doesn’t come through. This project has been a “headache” for Gehry from the get go-and the sentiment from YEARS ago was that the project didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being completed. Gehry projects are infamous for their cost overrides written into the project agreements. Outrageously expensive to begin with, they just keep getting more and more expensive as time goes on. I suggest that if Gehry has pulled out it is because the funding needed to continue the project is not there. With the economic meltdown particularly drying up the Jewish philanthropy sector, I would bet that many of those who made pledges towards the project have pulled out PLUS the cost has risen from the original cost of the project. Just google Gehry and see all the projects that he was supposed to do that fell through.

  10. HollyTree
    January 6, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Here is just one example: link to

    The cost overruns were due to GEHRY. His designs were so faulty as well and the cost of undoing his mistakes cost MILLIONS. Again, google Gehry and “lawsuits”. The contractors get caught in the middle of his shenanigans. It wasn’t just the design which should have raised the red flag for those wanting Gehry as the architect, it SHOULD have been his record of problems with his projects.

Leave a Reply