Reform rabbis: Relocate tolerance museum


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A proposed tolerance museum should not be built on an ancient Muslim cemetery located on the planned site, a group of Reform rabbis said.

The Board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the representative body of nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, passed the resolution Wednesday at its meeting in Jerusalem.

The Museum of Tolerance is a project of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The Israeli Supreme Court approved the site in central Jerusalem after a three-year legal battle, despite opposition from Muslim groups. A municipal parking lot is currently located on the site.

"Cemeteries are sacred ground in our Jewish tradition," read the resolution. "We would protest, in the strongest terms, not only the desecration, but any removal of a Jewish cemetery, no matter what the purpose. Therefore, it is self-evident that we must oppose the removal of another people’s sacred burial ground, no matter how worthy the purpose. While the Israeli Supreme Court has permitted the Wiesenthal Center to move ahead, an organization with high-minded goals like those of the Museum of Tolerance cannot be satisfied with mere adherence to the law."

Construction has continued at the site, except for the 12 percent where the ancient bones were found. The Wiesenthal Center has offered to pay to rebury the bones or to cover them with a special barrier to prevent them from being disturbed.

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