The Intolerance of the Intolerants

Shortly after the hotel was built, the Muslim Supreme Council began developing plans to build a pan-Islamic university on a site that included the entire Mamilla cemetery grounds.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus,

Arutz 7
In dozens of recent articles in media sources around the world, a Jewish human rights group is being accused of gross insensitivity. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is building a Museum of Tolerance in the center of West Jerusalem. Muslim leaders are outraged, they wail to all who will listen, because the site being excavated is on what was once the Mamilla Cemetery. They contend, and few journalists question, that Mamilla is an ancient and sacred Muslim cemetery. Who could resist such a story - the intolerance of a Jewish Museum of Tolerance!
At least four and a half ironies are presented in this situation, few finding their way into the news articles covering it. In children?s magazines there is often a feature called ?what?s wrong with this picture?? Let?s apply that methodology to this story, but we?ll call it: ?Did they find the irony??
We?ll start with the first and blandest irony: Israeli law explicitly deals with the handling of human bones uncovered during building anywhere in Israel ? the law applies to the remains of all faiths. The law requires that the bones be removed respectfully, that they are then turned over to the Israeli Antiquities Authority, and that they are then transferred to the religious leaders of the members to whom the bones belong.
One news source after the next, including the Associated Press, Reuters, the BBC and the LA Times, quote Irkima al-Sabri, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories. Al-Sabri shamelessly crowed: ?It never would have been approved if Jewish graves were being disturbed.? Au contraire - it is quite common for Jewish cemeteries to be moved for building purposes consistent with the Antiquities Authority rules. In fact, there have been dozens of unsuccessful protests by the Jewish ultra-Orthodox community when the State approves the removal of certain never-before-disturbed Jewish cemeteries. Apparently this irony was not worth mentioning.
A second irony: Muslim authorities removed graves from, and built upon, this same cemetery! In the early 1920?s the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem issued a fatwa declaring that the Mamilla Cemetery was no longer sacred ground and therefore available for building. In 1929, Arabs removed graves and built the Palace Hotel atop the Southern part of the cemetery.
Shortly after the hotel was built, the Muslim Supreme Council began developing plans to build a pan-Islamic university on a site that included the entire Mamilla cemetery grounds. The plan was eventually scrapped due to lack of funds, but the architectural drawings were displayed, and articles with names of donors to the University appeared in Arabic newspapers.
A few articles referenced the existence of the Palace hotel. But none of the western media mentioned that the Muslim authority itself planned to build a huge structure atop the entire Mamilla cemetery. Very few stories mentioned the Islamic ruling that the cemetery was officially abandoned and therefore non-sacred. However, stories in which the ruling is mentioned then quote Muslim leaders who deny there was such a decision or, that if there was, that it was either illegitimate or no longer applicable.
The third irony ? one not mentioned in a single media source ? is the one that struck me first and hardest.
The history of Arab desecration of Jewish (and also Christian) holy sites in the Middle East is a long and grotesque one.
From the moment the State of Israel was re-established in 1948, Arabs have been plundering Jewish graveyards. When the Arab League attacked the reborn Jewish state, the Jordanian army pillaged the 2,500 year old Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. The uprooting of 38,000 gravestones by the Jordanians to build houses, roads, and even latrines, is well documented.
The holiest of all Jewish burial sites, HaMachpela, is described in the Bible as the place where six of the seven Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried. In the Book of Genesis there is a detailed description of the place and of the price paid for the site by Abraham so that he could bury his wife, Sarah.
Since the fall of 2000, Palestinian gunmen have initiated gun battles around this holy site. Jews must be accompanied by armed soldiers if they wish to pray there today.
Rachel is the lone Matriarch whose remains are not interred in Hebron. Rachel?s Tomb has also been the site of Arab violence. During riots in 1996, Palestinian mobs assaulted the site, hurling rocks and firebombs at it.
The most heinous act committed by Arabs of an ancient Jewish tomb was the October 2000 attack upon the tomb of Joseph, son of the Patriarch Jacob. A mob of Palestinian Arabs attacked and then entered the holy tomb, set fire to it, and burned prayer books, Bibles and other sacred objects. And the Muslims are criticizing Jews for not respecting burial sites?
Here?s the sub- or perhaps supreme- irony: According to the Koran, both Abraham and Joseph are revered as prophets of Islam. The Arab disrespect shown Abraham?s burial site and the destruction of Joseph?s, means Arabs have debased some of the holiest Muslim cemeteries in their own canon, as well as in that of Christians and Jews.
The Mamilla cemetery, long abandoned, built upon by Arabs, and the remains therein legally required to be respectfully removed and returned to Muslims, hardly justifies the current hysteria. Yet that hysteria has been dutifully and unquestioningly fanned by the world media.
Have we not yet learned that when Muslims cry ?offensive,? it may have little (or nothing) to do with religious principles, but is instead one of the tools in their arsenal for geographic or psychological extortion? But already some Jewish groups are rallying behind the faux controversy, calling for a halt in the building of the museum in the name of tolerance.
And here?s the final irony, again one not picked up by any of the media: Shouldn?t the story be that the icons of intolerance are complaining about the placement anywhere of a museum of tolerance?
Can anyone imagine a Museum of Tolerance in Syria? In Saudi Arabia? In Ramallah?