Jerusalem’s Museum of Intolerance

In yesterday’s post I questioned my ability to concoct a fictional novel; this morning, it hardly seems necessary to have a vivid imagination to ponder the incredulous, for recent events in Jerusalem are proving sufficiently outlandish.

When the Jerusalem municipality declared plans for the construction of a Museum of Tolerance [below], few could complain – Jerusalem is, after all, the cradle of civilization, the meeting point of the three faiths.

Tolerance is the embodiment of all the positive ideals within Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, no?

Unfortunately, the correct answer is ‘no’, for tolerance is rendered a redundant word when the museum in question is granted permission to be built on Muslim graves.

The site was the city’s main Muslim cemetery until 1948, and the bones, dated as several hundred years old, were found on 12% of the construction site.

The actions are additionally peculiar given the recent news that an Israeli youth club would be built on a Muslim cemetery – as one blogger put it, literally “dancing on Muslim graves” – while in Lithuania the desecration of a Jewish cemetary to raise apartments has drawn much ire.


It must be emphasised that desecration is a heinous act – whether it is graffiti, or the building of places of merriment and education.

Yet it is indubitable that such measures can only be conducive to the smothering of tolerance in its nascence; for the Israeli High Court of Justice to deem the building of the museum legal is a substantial regression in terms of interfaith progress.

According to the Court, the construction of the $250-million museum would not lead to a disruption of public order, since “the Arab and Muslim world would accept the construction of the museum as they had accepted the construction of the parking lot over part of the museum in the mid 1960’s”.

Moreover, the court also noted that the Islamic organization that had filed the opposing appeal, Al-Aqsa Foundation, was declared illegal by Public Security Minister Avi Dichter earlier this year for its alleged ties with Hamas.

The tussle over the museum, constructed adjacent to Independence Park by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, has been running for several months, with museum backers exhibiting epic crassness.

For example, during an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement, the museum offered to move the bones to a nearby neglected Muslim cemetery and to renovate it.

Contrastingly, the Wiesenthal Center refused to relocate the museum or to avoid construction on the small section of the site where the bones were found, saying the area was needed for the museum.

Unsurprisingly, the offer was rejected by Islamic officials.

According to Zahi Nujidat, the Islamic Movement spokesman, “We did not expect much from the court, and it is clear that it is part of the Israeli establishment. We will not give up easily.”

For further information on petitions and developments, visit the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCR).

[Image via: Simon Wiesenthal Center.]

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This entry was posted on November 4, 2008 by in Conflict Zones, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Religion and tagged , , , , , .
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