The ADL's CEO tears open the wounds of 9/11 families
The painful controversy over the 9/11, or the Ground Zero, Mosque, as locals called it, was resurrected by the ineptitude and callousness of the CEO of the (Jewish) Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt.
Eleven years ago, the ADL stood firmly with the majority of Americans who opposed the construction of a mosque just two blocks away from Ground Zero.
Most Americans saw the mosque as a stab in the heart of the families who lost their loved ones to radical Islamist terrorists, a laceration of wounds barely healed.
When Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the mosque's developer, proposed to call it Cordoba House, he added insult to injury. The mosque in Cordoba, Spain was a triumphalist mosque that, according to Christian tradition, was built on top of the Basilica of Saint Vincent of Saragossa in the eighth century. It was not until the reconquest of Spain that the location's Catholic origins were restored.
Although Imam Rauf proposed this as a center for outreach to many faiths and a means of reconciliation between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, many Americans, including some leading political figures, saw this as Muslims creating a triumphalist mosque — a repeat of Cordoba — yards from the horror and tragedy of Ground Zero and a slap in the face to the families of the victims and the survivors.
After all, mosques sit atop the site of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the most sacred land in Judaism. The famed Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was built as a Christian Basilica in the sixth century by the emperor Justinian. A thousand years later, when the Muslims conquered Constantinople in 1453, they turned the Hagia Sophia into a triumphalist mosque. In the 1930s, the secular government of Turkey turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum. But with the revival of a fundamentalist Islam sweeping through Turkey, the Hagia Sophia will once again become a mosque.
Imam Rauf became swept up in controversy. Some saw him as an idealist reaching out for interfaith understanding, while others saw him as a man who could not articulate a strong denunciation of terrorism, especially when it came to Hamas. The project passed to a developer, who turned it into expensive condominiums.
In late 2019, there were rumblings of creating a prayer center, a distinction from a mosque with minimal difference, on the site. Pamela Geller, who had stood with the 9/11 families on the front line of opposition to the mosque, took to the pages of American Thinker to denounce the project.
Geller was criticized by liberal media for not appropriately making the hair-splitting distinction between a mosque and a prayer center. But the rumblings came to nothing. The advertised Park 51 Project, as it later came to be known, has a website that directs readers to a prayer service in Tribeca, not at Park 51.
So capitalism won out. There was more money to be made in selling luxury condominiums than in creating a prayer center.
The torn sensibilities of the 9/11 families receded because so did the controversy.
Now, on the 20th anniversary of the horror of 9/11, Jonathan Greenblatt, a onetime special assistant to then-president Barack Obama, has indulged his lofty hubris to apologize for opposing this desecration of the memories of the victims of 9/11.
In doing so, he has compromised the Anti-Defamation League's reputation. It will not be the same. Judea Pearl, the father of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by Muslin extremists in Pakistan, rendered an opinion more representative of the Jewish community. Two blocks, 180 meters from Ground Zero, was not the place for a mosque.
It is to be remembered that an estimated one in six victims of 9/11 had some Irish heritage. New York Police and New York Fire have longstanding lineages in the Irish communities of the New York Metropolitan Area.
By apologizing for the ADL's opposition to an Islamic Mosque at Ground Zero, Jonathan Greenblatt has most certainly alienated the Irish community and most of America, whose wounds he has torn open with a grotesque act of self-indulgence.
Does Jonathan Greenblatt represent the interests of Jews or of liberal Democrats? They are not the same!
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati.
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