Archeologists condemn J’lem Museum of Tolerance

Arab leaders say museum's site, opposite Independence Park, is a Muslim cemetery from the 12th century.

October 31, 2011 04:30
2 minute read.
Museum of Tolerance construction in J'lem

Museum of Tolerance construction 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Eighty-four international archeologists from well-known institutions sent a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat denouncing the city’s Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in a widely published letter last week.

The Museum of Tolerance has created much debate because Arab leaders said its site, opposite Independence Park, is a Muslim cemetery from the 12th century.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

The letter was signed by professors and archeologists from Yale University, the University of Cambridge, Tel Aviv University, the University of Chicago and the American University of Beirut, among others.

“Not only are we opposed to building on such massive and revered sites in any context, but we are also concerned by the surreptitious and unscientific removal of hundreds of human burials, in violation of international and domestic laws and the ethical obligations of archeologists,” the letter stated.

“Such insensitivity towards religious rites, towards cultural, national and religious patrimony, and towards families whose ancestors lay buried there causes grave concern from a scientific and humanitarian standpoint.”

After more than a decade of sitting empty in downtown Jerusalem, the museum received final approval for its new campus on July 13.

The building permit, from the Interior Ministry’s District Planning and Construction Committee, means work can begin on the site immediately.

The Jerusalem Municipality dismissed the letter, which is the latest in a series of efforts by activists to stop the construction of the museum.

“The issue of the Museum of Tolerance has passed all legal procedures and court hearings in Israel, including the High Court of Justice, which ruled on the issue and approved the establishment of a museum, a ruling that lead to the conclusion of legal proceedings and planning,” a municipal spokeswoman said.

The letter, which was also sent to the board members of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Antiquities Authority, also slammed the excavations technique, which they accused of being “hurried.” The Antiquities Authority refused to comment on the letter.

Palestinian-American activist Prof. Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University is leading a group of 60 Muslim families with relatives buried in the cemetery to halt the construction.

The Wiesenthal Center was engaged in a four-year legal battle over the location with Arab activists. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in favor of the State of Israel, which gave the land to the museum.

The Museum of Tolerance will include an amphitheater, exhibit halls, classrooms, a stone plaza and a parking lot. As part of the project, the Wiesenthal Center will also renovate Chatulot Square.

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night