Fighting Back

Jewish activists support ground zero mosque

by Marc Beja, AJC

NEW YORK — A group of Jewish activists and community leaders voiced their support for a planned mosque near ground zero and said opponents, including the nation’s leading Jewish civil rights group, are perpetuating misunderstandings about Islam.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center, joined about 30 other religious leaders and Jewish activists Thursday at the spot where the Cordoba Initiative hopes to build an Islamic center that will include a mosque, an athletic center, a culinary school and art studios. Waskow says the mosque will help people learn more about Islam.

“Whenever there has been bloodshed allegedly in the name of one tradition or another, it’s necessary to say, ‘That’s not what that tradition is about,'” Waskow, 76, said. “The Cordoba Initiative will keep saying that is not what Islam is about.”

The mosque and community center would be located two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. SoHo Properties, a partner in the effort, purchased the property for nearly $5 million. Early plans call for a 13-story, $100 million Islamic center, of which the mosque would be a part.

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