The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization devoted to fighting bigotry, has come out against the building of Cordoba House, a proposed Muslim center, on a cite two blocks from Ground Zero. The ADL gave two reasons for its opposition, both of which deserve comment.
First, the ADL said that building a Muslim center so close to Ground Zero would unnecessarily hurt the feelings of those who lost loved ones there. I have two problems with this argument: 1) many among the 9/11 families support the center, so why side with one group and not the other? And, 2) this argument links all Muslims to the acts of extremists among them. Any mosque of any kind would be offense simply because it is Muslim. This is the kind of thinking that even President Bush warned us against, and this is the kind of libel against which the ADL fights; how sad that it would use it against Muslims.
Everyone should oppose any religious institution that supports terrorism and preaches hatred, but the Cordoba House is nothing of the kind, and deserves the support of progressives everywhere. Including the ADL.
The ADL’s second concern regarding Cordoba House’s funding is rooted in the fact is that Saudi Arabia funds Wahabi mosques around the globe, and these mosques do promote hatred, misogyny, and terror. The fact that the United States supports the Saudi dictatorship which in turn buys the support of Wahabists who agree not to topple the House of Saud as long as they fund Wahabist activities is just one of many geo-political absurdities that plague our world. And while the concern is genuine, it is also loaded.
Just asking the question, “Who funds Cordoba House” raises doubts in the minds of people. Who does fund Cordoba House? We don’t know. Why don’t they list their donors on their website? We don’t know. What have they got to hide? Well, it must be something…
But the same can be asked of the ADL. Who funds them? We don’t know. Maybe they get money from right wing extremist groups in Brooklyn or Jerusalem. We don’t know. And why don’t they list the names of their donors on their website? What have they got to hide?
I know Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of Cordoba House. I have taught with him, dined with him (and his wife), and argued with him about the Middle East. And I am proud to call him a friend. I believe we need more ventures like Cordoba House, not less. I believe it is long past time for progressive clergy to come together and support one another, and condemn and actively oppose the work of those hate-mongers in all faiths. And I am saddened that the ADL lacked the guts to do so in this case.