More grotesque news. At a time when Israel has declared two sites in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to be Jewish heritage sites, showing that it has no sign of creating any kind of viable Palestinian state, grim tidings from Haaretz: A rabbi declares that work is going to begin on the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance atop a historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, despite international protest of the desecration.
Since the Supreme Court’s unanimous green light in late December for the project to go ahead, preparatory work has started and we are now down to bedrock, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based international Jewish human rights organization named for the late Nazi hunter.
…"But we’re hoping in the next couple of months to begin construction," Cooper said. ..After the Supreme Court rejected their 2008 appeal to stop construction of the museum, Palestinian and international human rights activists petitioned the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva last month to try to block the museum…
The Simon Wiesenthal Center contends that the museum is being constructed on a parking lot that no Muslims objected to building in 1960.
Cooper said that three days after the petition to the UN was filed, a blogger unearthed a Nov. 22, 1945 article in the Palestine Post related to the Mamilla cemetery.
Much to our utter amazement it talked about an announcement by the Supreme Muslim Council of Palestine to dig up a good part of the cemetery and build factories, a hotel and university, not on what would be our piece but on the actual cemetery, he said.
Notice that the good rabbi claims that there were "no Muslims" objecting to the parking lot in 1960. Right; Muslims in the new state of Israel had many fewer civil rights than they do even today. As Rick Congress has noted here, the 1945 article about Mamilla being destined to be business center–Nonsense, Mamilla was then on a British antiquities list.
[Martin] Hier [of Simon Wiesenthal Center] says that a "Supreme Muslim Council" had approved building on top of the Mamilla Cemetery. However, this Supreme Muslim Council (appointed by the British Mandate authorities) had no Muslim clerics among it and there also was no Mufti in office. Only a Mufti would have had the religious authority to approve building on the Mamilla Cemetery. It is part of the historical record that the last Supreme Muslim Council headed by a Mufti was dissolved by the British Mandate Authority in 1937.
The 1945, non-clerical, British-appointed Supreme Muslim Council did not have the authority to issue a religious fatwa (or ruling) that would have had the power to make any big changes in the status quo.
Add in the Simon Wiesenthal’s revamped new website, and the main court of battle looks to be shifting from petition signing (the forces of tolerance have gotten 4000 signatures) and the UN Human Rights Council, to the Public Relations Campaign. Well the effort to stop the desecration is not going away, and no amount of PR is going to make this thing kosher.
From two letters to Haaretz on the construction:
I don’t understand why Wiesenthal Center wants to build a cynically named "Museum of Tolerance" at an ancient cemetery site. This makes no sense to me. This is a frontal assault on everyone who respects the deceased, independent of religious faiths. This doesn’t make sense at all. I just found out that the Reform Rabbis’ Organization in US is against this too…
All the new Jewish historical sites being consecretated in west bank–tomb of ruth, etc, but this doesn’t go for Mamilla.