The head of the Manhattan JCC is advising the effort to build an Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero.This is where I remind people that religious freedom is one of the foundations of America. This is what the founders would have wanted.
Rabbi Joy Levitt, executive director of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, is calling on Jewish and Christian institutions to accept the couple behind the project. She discussed her institution’s connection to the project in an appearance Sunday on ABC’s This Week With Christiane Amanpour. She appeared alongside Daisy Khan, the wife of Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, who is the religious leader associated with the controversial project, which will include a mosque.
“The JCC has invited Daisy and the imam to come speak at the JCC in September, and I hope that we'll be able to do that," Levitt said on the program. "They've certainly accepted our offer, and I hope that JCCs and other community centers in the Christian and Jewish community and in the secular world will come to do that, because clearly what this whole controversy has unleashed is a tremendous amount of misinformation, lack of knowledge about Islam that we need to address.”
Levitt confirmed that the JCC has been advising Khan and Rauf. “Well, we got a call from Daisy when they began to think about this project, and said we want to build an MCC just like the JCC,” Levitt said.[...]
In the interview, Levitt slammed former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- one of the most prominent critics of the project -- for comparing the project to Nazis putting up a site next to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. She also invoked periods in early American history when some colonies outlawed the building of synagogues.
In other news, former Virginia Senator George Allen has realized that denying his Jewish roots was a cause in losing the 2006 election.
Allen, who lost the Virginia seat in a razor-close election to James Webb, spoke Thursday for the first time of the fallout from the controversy of his denying his Jewish past. He also spoke of his Jewish roots. At the time of the election, Allen heatedly denied any Jewish heritage, although research by the Forward and other Jewish media outlets made it clear he had Jewish ancestors.In Middle East news, we have this piece of information:
The journalistic digging into Allen's past was prompted by his use at a rally of the word "macaca," a slur against people of color that is commonplace in North Africa. Allen subsequently revealed that his Tunisian-born mother, traumatized by the Nazi occupation of her native land, had sworn him to secrecy about his Jewish roots.[...]
His biggest takeaway, he said, was greater sensitivity to minority rights -- he said using the word "macaca" to needle a Webb campaign volunteer of Indian descent was a mistake, but he denied knowing that the term was a slur.
From the moment his mother revealed her Jewish past to him in the summer of 2006, Allen said, "The core principle of freedom of conscience, beliefs and religion was no longer just a matter of enlightened philosophy to me -- it became deeply personal in my heartwrenching realization of how fear and persecution so tormented my loving, loyal mother."
The PLO repeated Mahmoud Abbas' assertion that the Jews have a history in Palestine and rejected charges that this means Jews have an exclusive claim to the region.
The Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington this week re-released the Palestinian Authority president's statement delivered in a meeting with Jewish leaders in Washington in June, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported. The statement said: "Nobody denies the Jewish history in the Middle East. A third of our Holy Koran talks about the Jews in the Middle East, in this area. Nobody from our side at least denies that the Jews were in Palestine, were in the Middle East."