Jerusalem tolerance museum to go ahead despite protests

March 16, 2010 00:22


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NEW YORK — The Simon Wiesenthal Center said Monday it hopes to start building its Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem in the coming months despite a petition to the UN to stop construction because the site was once a medieval Muslim cemetery.

Since the Israeli Supreme Court's unanimous green light in late December for the project to go ahead, preparatory work has started and "we are now down to bedrock," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based international Jewish human rights organization named for the late Nazi hunter.

In addition to 300- to 400-year-old human remains found earlier that have already been reburied in a Muslim cemetery, Cooper said workers discovered a wine press, part of the Herodian aqueduct that ran from Hebron to Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, and ancient coins from the Macabbean and Hashemite period.

Rania Madi of the Palestinian rights group BADIL, said construction of the museum would violate Muslim religious and cultural rights, and such a project would never have been undertaken if Mamilla cemetery site was home to Jewish graves.

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