The Wiesenthal Center is constructing a “Museum of Tolerance” on top of a very important Jerusalem Muslim Cemetery. The cemetery is located in Zeitun al-Malk [Mamila of today], and has graves from Jerusalem’s most important Palestinian families – Husseini, Nusseibeh, Muaked, Dajani, Kuteini, Namari, Abu-Saud – dating back at least 200 years. The Wiesenthal center claims to have taken all of the legal steps necessary to ensure that the museum can be legally built. But the issue is not a legal one. It is an issue of tolerance, sensibilities, morality, and mutual respect.
Imagine the outrage if the Palestinians were building a Museum of Tolerance (or anything else) on what was once a Jewish Cemetery. Would it matter to anyone if the cemetery was not active and in use since 1948 or that it was being done “legally”?
This project has no right to exist if it creates the outrage of the millions of Muslims in this shared land and of the hundreds of thousands of them in the Holy City. The issue is now before the High Court in Israel, but it is not a legal issue. A Jewish moral voice must be sounded loud that will resonate throughout the Land against this outrageous blindness. The Chief Rabbis of Israel must speak out against the desecration of this Muslim Cemetery. All of the citizens of Jerusalem should raise their voice against this project. Jews, Muslims and Christians alike should respect each others’ sacred spaces – without this there can never be peace in this Holy City or in this Holy Land.
We call on the Government of Israel to stop this madness – who could ever imagine a Museum of Tolerance built on such bad foundations?!
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.