The Anti Defamation League has been pummeled by nearly everybody, including the liberal hawk Jonathan Chait in the New Republic and Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic, for supporting the demand of Newt Gingrich and some rightwingers to move the Cordoba Islamic Center from its proposed lower Manhattan site. Under the guise of sensitivity to the victims of the 9/11 attack, it signs on to the religious bigotry of the Christian right.
But when it comes to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's building the Museum of Tolerance on the oldest and largest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, the ADL has no problem backing the legal rights of the Wiesenthal Center and turning a deaf ear to the sensitivities of the Palestinian Muslims.
It wasn't always like that. When the Jerusalem Mammilla Cemetery controversy came up, the ADL first proposed suspending the construction of the Museum
The ADL believes that a Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem can be an important institution for educating against bias and for respect and understanding. We trust that the same tenets that undergird [sic] the museum's mission will be applied to finding a resolution to address the concerns of the Muslim community and the families of those whose graves have been discovered…To do less would weaken the foundation upon which a museum of tolerance stands.
This sensitivity was at the time hailed by opponents of the Museum and was criticized, of course, by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Consistent? Not exactly. The ADL later reversed its position. According to its website,
Update: Following discussions in Israel, ADL withdrew its call for halting construction on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.
So why is it ok to be sensitive to the feelings of some victims of al-Qaeda Jihadists (not Muslims, and, by the way, Muslims were also killed in 9/11). But it is not ok to be sensitive to the feelings of Palestinian Muslims?
Apparently for the ADL, the value of support for Israel trumps the value of religious tolerance.
Of course, the cases themselves are not comparable. One consists of building a Jewish museum (let's face it: the story of the Jews will play a big role in the Museum of Tolerance) on the top of one of the last visibly Muslim Palestinian landmarks in West Jerusalem, expropriated from the owners against their will. The other consists of building a mosque near a site that has nothing to do with it.
Perhaps some Christians are offended when those they consider to "Christ killers" wish to build a synagogue nearby? This sort of sensitivity we have to pay attention to?
I am waiting to see the following retraction on the ADL website.
Update: Following discussions in America, ADL withdrew its call to move the Islamic Center in lower Manhattan