ADL sparks uproar after opposing ground zero mosque

Jewish group calls location 'counterproductive.'

Ground Zero mosque protest (photo credit: Associated Press)
Ground Zero mosque protest
(photo credit: Associated Press)
A Jewish group sparked a furor Friday when it announced its opposition to the building of a mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center in New York.
The Anti-Defamation League released a statement calling for the mosque to be moved from its current planned location two blocks away from where the 2001 terrorist attack occurred, citing the objections by relatives of the victims.
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“The controversy which has emerged regarding the building of an Islamic Center at this location is counterproductive to the healing process,” the statement read.
“Therefore, under these unique circumstances, we believe the City of New York would be better served if an alternative location could be found.”
Abraham Foxman, the longtime head of ADL, vociferously rejected claims his organization had betrayed the message of religious tolerance it usually preaches.
“ADL has a reputation of fighting bigotry,“ Foxman told The Jerusalem Post yesterday.
“Right after 9/11 we took out a full page ad saying we don’t fight hate with hate. We have a history in the past 10 years standing up against Islamophobia.”
Foxman drew a parallel between the location of the mosque and a thwarted plan to construct a church at Auschwitz. He said in both instances one has to take into account the feelings of the victims and their families.
Meanwhile, the left-of-center Jewish organization J Street came out in support of the construction of the mosque on Friday, saying criticism of its location was discriminatory and bigoted.
“The principle at stake in the Cordoba House controversy goes to the heart of American democracy and the value we place on freedom of religion,” according to a press released signed J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami.
“Should one religious group in this country be treated differently than another? We believe the answer is no.”
The mosque became a political issue after rightwing politicians in the US like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich attacked its location, saying it was inappropriate for a Muslim house of worship to be built so close to the site of the 2001 attack by Islamic fundamentalists.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has repeatedly defended the location of the mosque saying the government had no right to interfere in its construction.
“If somebody wants to build a religious house of worship, they should do it and we shouldn’t be in the business of picking which religions can and which religions can’t,” he said last month.