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Thoughts on the Proposed Mosque near Ground Zero

08/17/2010 11:43:09 AM


Rabbi George Gittleman

I’ve been ruminating on the proposed mosque near the site of the 9/11-terror attack.

While I understand the emotions swirling around the mosque question, once one regains ones rational faculties, I really don’t see the issue. Is this not America, where property rites trump almost all others? Are not freedom of religious expression and equal protection under the law, foundational principles of our democracy? Regardless of how we might feel, it’s simple; they own the property, it’s zoned for that use, they have every right to build the mosque there, end of story, as far as I am concerned.

Well, ok, there may be more to the story, but not about whether they can build their mosque. In my mind the story continues like this… What does it say about American society that we are so quick to jettison basic rights in an expression of our outrage toward radical Islam? Another question; can we even differentiate between radical Islam and more moderate forms? I do understand the fear factor and I think, in part, it is real; there is a great animosity in much of the Arab Moslem world towards “The West” and America especially (the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t helped much!). It’s also not clear how moderate any form of Islam can be, at least as it is currently practiced. And, from a Jewish perspective, the Anti-Semitism (not to mention the Anti-Israel rhetoric) in the Arab, Moslem world is pervasive and mainstream.

Nevertheless, we can not give in to our fears. We also most remember that it is the Rule of Law in America that has made America such a great place for the Jews. Any weakening of this great foundation of American Society is a threat to what makes America great for everyone, including us!

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