Controversy over Museum of Tolerance's location

Wiesenthal Center to spar with Palestinians at UN HR Council over museum’s location; founder prepares team of experts to rebut allegations.

Museum of Tolerance 311 (photo credit: Museum of Tolerance)
Museum of Tolerance 311
(photo credit: Museum of Tolerance)
The saga of the planned location of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on part of an old Muslim cemetery may soon enter a new phase. The Wiesenthal Center’s founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, said on Monday he was preparing a team of experts to rebut Palestinian allegations at an upcoming debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council he expected to take place in October that construction of the museum is illegal.
“Taking us to the infamous Human Rights Council is a badge of honor for the Museum of Tolerance,” he said. “[The council] has a full-time career of bashing Israel and Jews.”
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Speaking on the occasion of the unveiling of a new plan for the museum replacing the original design by Frank Gehry which was deemed too expensive, Hier said the ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court in favor of the museum’s construction on its current site was the only legal approval required.
He said he didn’t want to go into further details on the planned rebuttal so as to not to give away his strategy.
A full feature on the new Chyutin Architects design for the museum will appear in The Jerusalem Post’s Succot supplement.
Meanwhile, one of the key Palestinian petitioners against the construction of the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem responded to Hier’s statement.
Palestinian activist and historian Rashid Khalidi said Wednesday that the Human Rights Council hearing, planned to take place later this month, won’t focus on the location of the museum but will instead deliberate a wide range of Israel’s alleged human rights violations. Nonetheless, he said, he hoped past statements by the Human Rights Council on the location of the planned museum would prevent its construction.
“Members of families with ancestors buried in Mamilla, including my own, are encouraged that in response to our UN petition, the council is making efforts to hold Israel (and, indirectly, the Simon Wiesenthal Center) accountable for their human rights violations and archeological crimes in Mamilla,” he wrote.
“It is high time that the international community take effective action about the ongoing desecration of this ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, about which no decent human being, much less institutions tasked with investigating violations of international law, should remain silent.”