Skip to comments.Dershowitz vs. Hanson on the ADL and the Ground Zero Mosque
Posted on 08/06/2010 5:14:07 AM PDT by SJackson
Anti-Defamation League Should Not Oppose Mosques At Ground Zero
By Alan M. Dershowitz
The ADLs decision to oppose the building of a 13 story Muslim center two blocks from Ground Zero is inconsistent with its mission. The ADL has a long and distinguished history of opposing bigotry, supporting multiculturalism and advocating tolerance. Though it began as an organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism, it has become one of the most potent forces against all forms of religious, ethnic and racial bigotry. Following the mass murders perpetrated on 9/11 by Islamic extremists, the ADL was in the forefront of standing up against those who would use this hateful attack to generalize hatred against all Muslims or all Arabs.
In light of this history, I would have expected the ADL to support the building of this Muslim community center, which would include a mosque, a performing arts center, a pool and a restaurant. At the very least I would have expected it to remain silent and not to lend its powerful and distinguished voice to an opposition that includes many bigots along with many decent people who have expressed legitimate concerns about the structure.
Reasonable people can disagree about the merits of building a Muslim center so close to the sight of a horrendous crime committed in the name of Islam by extremists who do not represent their religion. Many Jews were deeply offended when a Roman Catholic covenant was built adjacent to Auschwitz.
Supporters argue that the proximity of the mosque to the site of this crime sends a powerful message that there are many Muslims in the world who identify with the victims rather than the perpetrators. The most influential opposition comes from families of many of the victims who were killed at Ground Zero, though some families favor the project while others have remained silent.
Let the debate continue, but let the ADL not lend its imprimatur of tolerance to those who stand in opposition. Inevitably, this has become a political debate with rightwing republicans such as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich leading the political campaign against it, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg has strongly supported the project on grounds of religious freedom, arguing that government should have no role in dictating where a mosque can be situated. As Bloomberg put it, what is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us? Democracy is stronger than this
The ADLs decision to join this debate on the side of those who oppose the mosque was exacerbated by the reason given by Abe Foxman, a friend and a man who I admire, for why the opposition of some families was an important part of why the ADL came down against the project. Mr. Foxman, who himself survived the Holocaust, was quoted in The New York Times saying: Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Referring to the loved ones of the 9/11 victims, he added, Their anguish entitles them to a position that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.
This is a dangerous argument that has implications totally inconsistent with the mission of the ADL. Bigotry is often a result of victimization, perceived or real. Many Germans felt victimized following World War I, and some blamed the Jews. Although their position was irrational or bigoted, they were not entitled to act on it. Nor are Palestinians who feel victimized by Israel entitled to be bigoted against Jews. There is simply is no excuse for bigotry, and the ADL ought to know that better than any other organization.
The ADL was founded as the result of irrational bigotry directed against a Jew named Leo Frank by a Ku Klux Klan type organization calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan. They lynched Leo Frank in the name of an alleged victim of rape and murder. The fact that Frank was totally innocent didnt matter to them. Their anguish over her victimization did not entitle them to their irrationality and bigotry. The ADL should know better than to provide an abuse excuse to bigots based on perceived victimization.
The vast majority of those who oppose the mosque at Ground Zero are neither bigoted nor irrational. Some are. So are some who favor it. That is not the issue. The issue is whether a great human rights organization should oppose the building of a Muslim center near Ground Zero. I have heard no rational reason from the ADL why it should stand in opposition to this project.
I hope that Abe Foxman was misquoted or misspoke and that he will withdraw both his opposition to the mosque and most especially the argument he offered for it. The ADL should continue with its noble mission of siding with the victims of bigotry rather than making excuses for those who engage in bigotry.
Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007) and The Case for Israel (2003).
Emboldening the Enemy
By Victor Davis Hanson
I am not well enough acquainted with the history of the Anti-Defamation League to offer a competent analysis about its proper reaction to the Mosque at Ground Zero controversy. But the issue raises larger questions that I think all reasonable people should be concerned with.
1) What little we know about Khan/Rauf family connection to the Mosque is not encouraging; at the least, it seems that a key proponent of the mosque cannot fully explain exactly from where all the funding arises, or whether in the past Mr. Rauf has shown sympathy for radical terrorists. So there is a legitimate concern that those in the past who offered apologies for the tactics of Islamic terrorism are now to be financially connected to those building a mosque near a site where 3,000 American perished due to Islamic terrorism. Why not a simple, transparent and full accounting?
2) Municipalities, through zoning pressures and laws, make all sorts of decisions about the sorts of construction allowed. Surely, this falls into the category of taste. Professor Dershowitz cites the Roman Catholic convent near Auschwitz as a parallel. Aside from the fact that the construction of such a building likewise showed poor taste and so, as I recall, was closed by Pope Paul II in 1993, it is an inexact parallel, in that the perpetrators of the Holocaust were agnostic or atheist Nazi pagans, who saw the church as valuable only as a social institution to preserve order and tradition.
Indeed, the Nazis targeted many Christians for their pacifism, anti-Nazi activity and sympathy for the Jews. But at Ground Zero, the religious symbolism of a huge mosque, fairly or not, resonates with the purported beliefs of the mass murderers. Hawaiians would not allow a Bushido shrine (unlike the Nazis, the Japanese fascists absorbed religion into their ideology) near the USS Arizona, not because they are bigots, but because they are sensitive to the dead and the symbolism that might thus arise. They know it would insult the memory of those who were entombed below, and at the same time give encouragement to right-wing fanatical Japanese extremists.
Aside from the fact that Hiroshima was a military target, and its bombing helped to end the war and save thousands of lives in the Pacific who would otherwise have been doomed by the ongoing Japanese butchery in Asia and a planned invasion of the Japanese mainland, no one has urged that there be a Southern Baptist Church or an American Methodist Church near the Ground Zero shrine as a sign of postwar harmony; such a proposal might be well intended, but it would be also grotesque.
3) Much has been made that America shows her strength and tolerant values by allowing such a symbolic structure near Ground Zero, but one wonders in a huge city like New York, why Ground Zero at all? While we believe it may reveal our liberality, our enemies, again fairly or not, will see the mosque as a sort of strong horse symbolism, in which those who evoked Islam to murder thousands of Americans found closure by tearing down godless towers and hence paving the way for Islams shrine to rise nearby, as in their frequent crackpot al Qaeda triumphalist historicizing about the minarets on Santa Sophia or the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop the site of the first and second Jewish temples.
Surely would not the well-intentioned Muslim community of New York wish to move their proposed site just a bit further from the site of 9/11, in order not to enhance the propaganda of a crazed minority that so unfairly tarnishes their efforts at ecumenicalism?
Instead, one can already see that supporters of the mosque advertising the Ground Zero connection, but, again, for what purpose? Again, they must know that a small fanatical minority of a billion Muslimsthat is, many millionswill gain confidence and encouragement from such a gratuitous act. As Lawrence Wright showed in the Looming Tower, Atta, bin Laden, Zawahiri, and others were iconic killers who, like the Taliban who in 2001 blew up the Buddhist monuments at Bamyan, chose their targets largely for their symbolic capital.
I predict that within a year of the mosques construction, there will be videos, posters, and pamphlets all over the Middle East, juxtaposing the minarets of the mosque with the Ground Zero memorial wreckageshown as purported proof how such mass murder can demoralize a beaten people into bowing to the Islam of the killers. Few have commented on the security aspects of such an act, but surely it will give added confidence to those who wish to tear down and incinerate more American towers and landmarks.
4) The war against radical Islam is ongoing, as we see in a resurgent Taliban, and the recent Hasan murdering, the Abdul Mutallab attempt, and the Times Square bombing. Such a controversial decision surely can be postponed until the Islamists cease their attempts at attacking the West in general and New York in particular, given that the war so often hinges on symbolism, propaganda, and the perceived strength or weakness of the West in standing up to radical Islamists.
As we have seen from the recent rude reception in India of President Obamas representative to the Muslim world, the response to the Obama Cairo speech, the various anti-American and anti-Semitic rantings out of Turkey and Pakistan, both the recipients of recent lavish American attention and cash, and the continual al Qaeda threateningwhat we consider to be outreach and tolerance are often seen as both weakness and an invitation to even greater demands for apologies and concessions.
As it is, the current asymmetry is absurd: a Christian would incur a death sentence for building a church in much of the Middle East, Arabs vote and express themselves more freely in the Zionist Entity than almost elsewhere in the Middle East, and current U.S. outreach to Muslims and liberal immigration policies are unrivaled in the Western world, and certainly unheard of in places like Russia, China, and much of Latin America or Africa. The rest of the world, not the U.S, has a long way to go in matters of religious tolerance.
The location of the mosque is a legal, though deliberately tasteless, act that will have the effect of encouraging radical extremists in their ongoing efforts to attack icons of modern Western liberal society. Cui bono?
This is one time the ADL is on the correct side of an issue.
The usual vileness.
>>Supporters argue that the proximity of the mosque to the site of this crime sends a powerful message that there are many Muslims in the world who identify with the victims rather than the perpetrators.
OMG. How stupid are some people?? This mosque is the muslims planting their flag at the site of their victory. Its presence there makes any anti-muslim statements or protests made at Ground Zero a hate crime because you’ll be doing it in front of a place of worship. I’d bet that somewhere inside is a shrine to the 10 muslim Jihadists that died at Ground Zero.
Americans need to wake up from their slumber. Our political correctness will destroy us.
Gingrich: Radical Islamists Are the Enemy
Explaining his opposition to the construction of a mosque near New Yorks ground aero, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich dramatically refocuses understanding of the threat posed by radical Islamism.
Thats the view expressed by Andy McCarthy, author of the new book The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, in an article for National Review Online.
The threat posed by Islamism is not just about terrorism that’s just a small part of the offensive, McCarthy writes, summarizing Gingrichs assertions.
We are confronted by a mainstream movement that seeks gradually to infuse sharia, Islam’s legal and political framework, into our legal, political, financial, economic, and educational systems and throughout our culture.
In an essay for Human Events, Gingrich observes: One of our biggest mistakes in the aftermath of 9/11 was naming our response to the attacks the war on terror instead of accurately identifying radical Islamists (and the underlying ideology of radical Islamism) as the target of our campaign.
Many Muslims see sharia as simply a reference point for their personal code of conduct. They recognize the distinction between their personal beliefs and the laws that govern all people of all faiths.
For the radical Islamist, however, this distinction does not exist. Radical Islamists see politics and religion as inseparable in a way it is difficult for Americans to understand. Radical Islamists assert sharias supremacy over the freely legislated laws and values of the countries they live in and see it as their sacred duty to achieve this totalitarian supremacy in practice.
Some radical Islamists use terrorism as a tactic to impose sharia but others use non-violent methods a cultural, political, and legal jihad that seeks the same totalitarian goal even while claiming to repudiate violence. Thus, the term war on terrorism is far too narrow a framework in which to think about the war in which we are engaged against the radical Islamists.
Gingrichs essay goes on to describe the troubling advance of the sharia agenda in the United States, and why a true understanding of the ultimate goals of Islamists should shape opposition to the proposed mosque in Manhattan.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the mosque proposal, is an apologist for sharia supremacy, Gingrich notes, and in a recent Op-Ed he actually compared sharia law with the Declaration of Independence.
This isnt mere dishonesty; it is an Orwellian attempt to cause moral confusion about the nature of radical Islamism, Gingrich writes.
We need to have the moral courage to denounce it. It is simply grotesque to erect a mosque at the site of the most visible and powerful symbol of the horrible consequences of radical Islamist ideology. Well-meaning Muslims, with common human sensitivity to the victims families, realize they have plenty of other places to gather and worship. But for radical Islamists, the mosque would become an icon of triumph, encouraging them in their challenge to our civilization.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
If the Mosque is built, and without the cooperation of local authorites or any interest by either banking regulators or Homeland Security in the funding, that's likely.
I think a better analogy than than Auschwitz would be the many zoning battles which have gone over building plans in the vicinity of National Parks and Monuments. Ask Disney, or WalMart or numerous developers and landowners.
But if it's built in the end, perhaps a compromise. A display on the evils of radical Islam, which caused the deaths of thousands on the site. Include the opression of women and universal religious intolerance. Death sentence for gays. And Islamic expansionism, a bit on al Aska and the original Cordoba, and what the building of a Mosque at the site of an Islamic victory means. And a big arrow pointing to the new Cordoba Mosque, noting that the 11th century invasion of the US begins here.
I was actually surprised that Foxman opposed it, because usually the left-wingness of the ADL takes precedence over its Jewishness.
Dershowitz is just a dhimmi fool.
The date of the building dedication and opening is 9/11/11.
Noooo.... has nothing to do with 9/11/01... of course not.../sarc
If the mosque is built, America will regret it. This is NOT about freedom of religion. This is about a political ideology that wants to control its victims.
Did he mean a Shinto shrine?
And the German people under Nazi-ism did not enmass embrace atheism and paganism during the war years, then mostly all shift back to being Christian as soon as it was over. The Nazi's used language calling Jews ‘the killers of Christ’ to evoke racial hatred and justify their extermination.
It would be easier perhaps to turn a blind eye to the long history of European animosity towards the Jewish people, and thus fail to recognize that the Holocaust was the latest of these violent pogroms. But the vast majority of the people in Germany who approved of the Nazi's and supported the Nazi's in Nazi Germany, called themselves Christian both before, during, and after the war.
Were all the other pogroms in history also transitory upwellings of pagan and/or atheistic sentiment? How compatible ARE these two ideas, in total opposition; one in which the supernatural exists in all things (paganism) and the other which denies the supernatural? VDH couldn't go with one or the other, so mashed them together? Clumsy.
Dershowitz 0 - what a putz
You’re certainly right about the German people, but the official, largely failed, religion of the Reichschurch was a form of paganism with some Christian appearances. I think his point was that Islam is directly implicated in the motivation for the 9/11 attack, Christianity wasn’t a factor in the the motivation of constructing Auschwitz. Thus the case against the Mosque is greater than the controversy at Auschwitz.
When Dershboy speaks, you don’t have to read a single word. You can be sure he will support the Muslim position no matter what. There is a 100% historical of this.
He always supports the Muslim position and the drapes his tallis over it to attempt to give his opinion more power.
His consistent theme is, “I’m a Jew! I’m a Jew! Look at ME! I’m Jewish and even I see that the Muslims are right!”
Whatever Jewish credentials this guy may have had at one time have expired long ago. He has become nothing but a Muslim advocate. He may as well just go ahead and convert.
He supports all forces against Israel and any expression of Judaism in America.
He supports Hizbolla, Hamas, the PLO, and Iran. His positions are more Muslim than many Muslims.
He should just convert to Islam already. The only reason he doesn’t is because then he would lose his cherished ‘dafka’ effect of supposedly being ‘Jewish’ and supporting the positions of Muslim terrorists.
Money? Fame? No matter why he does it, he is the worst kind of Jew just like in Germany.
May he have health and long life.
It’s consistant, he’s been known to be critical of the left, though it doesn’t get much publicity. If a right wing group had made the statement, their bigotry would be trumpeted on the front page of the NY Times and WP
>> This is NOT about freedom of religion.
This is about the “one, true religion” triumphing over all others. How long before the Pledge of Allegiance is replaced by “There is no God but Allah...”?
Amazing the only “racist” involved in this issue are the Muslims.
A religion that says “Convert or Die” and then moves to make that a reality, is the problem.
a horrendous crime committed in the name of Islam by extremists who do not represent their religion.
Alan is totally wrong here, those jihadists who
brought down the Towers DID represent their religion,
the violent bigoted fanatic aspect of it.
Why this effort to divorce their actions from their
culpability as representatives of their religion?
Just ask them, they are PROUD of the fact!
I agree with VDH’s points though - and have posted the same analogy as he about a Japanese cultural center and (Shinto) shrine at Pearl Harbor; or perhaps a Mormon cultural center and temple at Mountain Meadows; a Russian cultural center at Katyn; I like the American cultural center and/or Christian church at Hiroshima analogy - that is a good one as well.
I say let ‘em build the damn mosque ... encourage them even. Let ‘em build it big and tall. Fill it with muzzies and I’m guessing it would not take long to round up a few pilots with a death wish.
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