Lebanaon’s Hezbollah group attacked the Israel government for authorizing the construction of a Tolerance Museum on a site that incorporates part of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. It blasted the decision “for the desecration of a historic Islamic cemetery” and charged it was part of an Israel plot to take over and claim as Jewish areas that historically were Muslim. The Israel High Court on Wednesday rejected appeals by two Muslim organizations which complained that the museum would be built over a part of an ancient Muslim cemetery. The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein expressed surprise promoters want to build a museum seeking “tolerance” over an area that many Muslims regard as sacred.
There undoubtedly are many reasons why the Simon Wiesenthal Center wishes to construct a Tolerance Museum since fostering tolerance has always been among its aims. But, surely, there is something ironic in constructing the museum over what was formerly an Islamic cemetery. Imagine the outrage if the museum were to be built over an historic Jewish cemetery.
The best way to achieve the goals of a Tolerance Museum is to begin by acting tolerant. If the Museum builds on another site it demonstrates to Muslims its desire to respect their wishes and it is the first step in moving toward mutual tolerance and respect for one another.