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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 7, 2010 / 25 Sivan 5770

A mosque at Ground Zero? Moderate Muslims say no

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Is Ground Zero the right place for a major new mosque and Islamic cultural center? That is the question swirling around the proposed Cordoba House, a 15-story, $100 million Muslim development to be built just 600 feet from where the World Trade Center stood. The ambitious plans for Cordoba House include not only a mosque, but also a 500-seat auditorium, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bookstore.

The prospect of an Islamic center so close to Ground Zero is, not surprisingly, controversial. Many relatives of Sept. 11 victims are strongly opposed. One group, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, calls Cordoba House "a gross insult to the memory of those who were killed on that terrible day." At the same time, the project has very strong political support. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer are among its backers, and Cordoba House was endorsed by lower Manhattan's Community Board No. 1 in a near-unanimous vote on May 25.

But perhaps most noteworthy are the views of leading Muslim moderates -- Muslims known for their commitment to tolerance and pluralism, and for their opposition to all forms of radical Islam.

One such individual is Zuhdi Jasser, a physician, US Navy veteran, and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

In a conversation with me last week, Jasser reminisced about his family's history of building mosques in the heartland communities where they lived. His parents, Syrian immigrants to the United States, helped create the Fox Valley Islamic Center in Neenah, Wis., in 1980. "This was during the Iranian hostage crisis," he recalled, "and some of the local residents wanted the Zoning Commission to prevent the mosque from going forward." But the commissioners gave their blessing to the project, and the modest mosque -- the construction budget was just $80,000 -- became part of the neighborhood. Later the family later moved to western Arkansas, where they joined with others to create the Islamic Center of Fort Smith. As recently as March, Jasser came out in support of Muslims in Sheboygan, Wis., whose plans for a new place of worship were meeting with vocal resistance.

But he adamantly opposes the Ground Zero mosque.

"For us, a mosque was always a place to pray, to be together on holidays -- not a way to make an ostentatious architectural statement about the grandeur of Islam," Jasser says. "Ground Zero shouldn't be about promoting Islam. It's the place where war was declared on us as Americans." To appropriate that space for Muslim outreach, he argues, is "the worst form of misjudgment."

Equally opposed is Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, a devout Muslim and director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, DC.

Schwartz notes that the spiritual leader of the Cordoba Initiative, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, describes himself as a Sufi -- a Muslim focused on Islamic mysticism and spiritual wisdom. But "building a 15-story Islamic center at Ground Zero isn't something a Sufi would do," says Schwartz, a practitioner of Sufism himself. "Sufism is supposed to be based on sensitivity toward others," yet Cordoba House comes across as "grossly insensitive." He rejects Rauf's insistence that a highly visible Muslim presence at Ground Zero is the way to make a statement against what happened on 9/11. Better, in his view, is the approach of many Muslims "who hate terrorism and who have gone privately to the site and recited prayers for the dead silently and unperceived by others."

Ali Al-Ahmed, a Saudi native who founded the Institute for Gulf Affairs and is an advocate for civil rights and religious freedom in the Middle East, hopes for the best from Cordoba House. "A mosque should be a good thing," he tells me. But he worries about the number of Americans who may be "hurt and upset" by the project, and wonders whether a mosque is really the best thing for Muslims to build so close to Ground Zero. Why not something less emotionally charged, he asks -- a social-service agency, perhaps, or an assisted living center for the elderly?

Muslims must take the feelings of other Americans into account Al-Ahmed contends. Healing and social cohesion matter more than a new mosque. He quotes no less an Islamic authority than the Imam Ali, the influential son-in-law of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. "Reconciliation of your differences," says Imam Ali in the collection of teachings known as the Peak of Eloquence, "is more worthy than all prayers and fasting."

Will a mosque at Ground Zero make reconciliation more likely? Or will it needlessly rub salt in the unhealed wounds of 9/11?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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