I hate the word "tolerance" when it is used to speak about dealing with other groups unlike ourselves. We tolerate things we don't like. I barely tolerate going to the gym but I go because the alternative is worse. We tolerate a job we do not like because we need to support ourselves and our loved ones.
The Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center is going to build a Museum of Tolerance on a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. This demeans even the best possible meaning of tolerance. Are they asking the Muslim community of Jerusalem to "tolerate" the desecration of their cemetery so the Wiesenthal Center and its director can bulid a monument to themselves in the name of building good relations with others?
When a non-Jewish group in Europe tries to build on the site of a long abandoned Jewish cemetery, the Wiesenthal Center is among the first to protest the desecration and the building project. Now they plan to do the same. To me this act of desecration of sacred ground is the utmost act of hypocrisy. It is a shanda of the highest order for the whole Jewish community. Instead of restoring the Beth Jacob cemetery on Doat Street last summer, imagine our community's response if a NY court declared it abandoned and a group tried to build a Mosque on it! Our friend Norman Weinberg has dedicated innumerable hours to the restoration of Jewish cemeteries in Poland with great success and has brought much honor to our community and to Poland. The Wiesenthal Center, by its decision and action brings more shame and harm to our people than Bernie Madoff. They are desecrating not only this cemetery but everything their namesake and one of my personal heroes Simon Wiesenthal stood for.
Please take a moment to write to the Wiesenthal Center by going to their website: http://www.wiesenthal.com and clicking on the contact us link at the very bottom of the page.
Click here to read an article on the Museum from the Los Angeles Times.
Here is Rabbi Eric Yoffie's op-ed piece on the Museum.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution asking the Wiesenthal Center to move the location of the Museum.