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'Ground Zero Mosque': Islamophobic extremists are fueling the controversy

Criticism of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque -- a symbol of tolerance – is generating fear of Muslims. In reality, New York is home to 800,000 hard-working Muslims who help make it the greatest city on earth.

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When the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced its opposition to the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” last week, Director Abraham Foxman said that “Building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.”

In an interview with The New York Times, he acknowledged that such a position might seem to run counter to his group’s stated goal of combating bigotry. “Survivors of the Holocaust,” he retorted, “are entitled to feelings that are irrational.”

In its coverage of the controversy, the Times offered a bold and perhaps somewhat unsurprising prediction. “The unexpected move” by the “influential Jewish organization,” wrote Michael Barbaro, “could well be a turning point in the battle,” causing public sentiment to turn decisively against the project.

Surprising backlash

By the end of the day, however, something remarkable had happened. The venerable ADL – with its 97-year record of “defend[ing] democratic ideals and protect[ing] civil rights” – found itself under siege, attacked by progressives and establishment figures alike.

Nobel laureate Paul Krugman called the statement “shocking,” “shameful – and stupid.” By the ADL’s reasoning, he argued, Jews shouldn’t write for national publications and shouldn’t serve on the Supreme Court because this might be painful for some people.


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