It doesn't happen often but when it does it's a great feeling. Yesterday, Michael Bloomberg, the City of New York and progressive folks here and abroad won a great victory in the fight for religious tolerance by sweeping aside any blocking factors to the Islamic Cultural Center in NY's Downtown area
In particular, in light of the constant fighting in the Middle East and spread of virulent misunderstanding on both sides the headline: 'Ground Zero mosque' Imam thanks U.S. Jews for support was great.
Similarly the efforts of Progressive Jewish Groups like J Street and others made a difference even if only symbolically. Seeing the Islamic and Jewish communities come together to build something positive is a heartening step.
I think Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said it best here:
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the main force behind a plan to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in New York, thanked on Tuesday the American Jewish supporters who backed the proposed center amid a widespread contoversy.
"I express my heartfelt appreciation for the gestures of goodwill and support from our Jewish friends and colleagues", he said. "Your support is a reflection of the great history of mutual cooperation and understanding that Jewish and Muslim civilizations have shared in the past, and remains a testament to the enduring success of our continuing dialogue and dedication to upholding religious freedom, tolerance and cooperation among us all as Americans."
Given that the 9/11 event was in large part about religious intolerance and the hatred that spawned that attack, this symbolic move is great. J Street collected over 10,000 signatures for their petition to turn into the NY Landmarks committee.
Sharif el-Gamal, lead developer of the Park 51 project and member of the Jewish community center in upper Manhattan told Haaretz he did not expect the attention they have been receiving as he had been trying to buy the building for five years with this intention to build the center. "I’ve been looking for almost 10 years within this vicinity. It’s not easy to find real estate in New-York."
El-Gamal, who has a Jewish sister-in-law, added that "the mosque will be a small component of a larger facility and it will be run as a separate non-profit. There will be a gym, a pool, restaurant. A spa, multi-use facilities, and also a September 11 memorial space to honor the victims(vb1 bolding)."
What could be better than this. First of all el-Gamal is a JCC member whose sister in law is Jewish. Second of all this project is totally modeled on a JCC. Finally, A memorial to the victims of 9/11. What more do these people want?
But bigotry does not take a holiday:
The Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman called to impose some conditions on the center construction – basically, to stop the project "until there is further evaluation of its impact on the families and friends of victims of the 9-11 attacks, the intention of the center’s sponsors, and their sources of funding".
"Holy Joe" loses one battle so now he wants to go and drum up some Right Wing flunkies to lie about TEH HORRERS of an Islamic Center. "Holy Joe" and his ilk have been insisting that Muslims denounce the attacks of 9/11. Well what better way to denounce Bin-Laden and his band of murderers than to have an Islamic Center (with a prayer room in it) build a MEMORIAL TO THE VICTIMS OF 9/11!
Let's not let the ball drop here folks. Let's keep the tolerance train running. Speak out against right (and left) wing hate and the new move divide the Democratic community. If progressive Jews and Muslims of New York City can work together then this has to be an example for the two communities and progressives in general - to work together into the future.
Peace, Shalom, Salam.
Wow, thank you everyone for putting this on the Rec. List. Your support for this diary and this project is WONDERFUL! Thank you all.