Further to this post by Adeena regarding the rising attacks against the Mosque being erected in downtown NYC, let me provide some more background to the thousands of people that are attacking this project without taking the time to do a little bit of research about it.
I received this video post by Pat Condell from my sister, attacking the project.
Here was my response to my sister:
The mosque near Ground Zero is being opened by a dear friend and member of the PeaceWorks Foundation’s Honorary Board, and a remarkable human being who our Dad would have loved as much as he loved Rabbi Scheinberg [our Orthodox Rabbi in San Antonio, TX, who we all admire for his deep humility, warmth, and respect of others]. He is a humanist and a pluralist, a tolerant sweet man, and the role model of what we should want EVERY religious leader – Muslim or otherwise – to be like. Please forward back to Oren and anyone else who shared this with you.
To briefly expound on this note, let me respond to some of the assertions made by Mr. Condell.
He attacks the religion of Islam as an ocean of hatred, violence and intolerance. But intolerance and hatred are sadly not exclusive to Islam. All major religions have their regrettable elements of excess.
Incidentally just a couple days ago I saw a fantastic movie – Goya’s Ghosts – starring another PeaceWorks Foundation Honorary Board member, Natalie Portman, as a woman who is jailed, raped, and oppressed by the Spanish Inquisition.
There is no question that there are monstrous people who I call "pseudo-Islamic terrorists" who usurp a religion that can be about love and respect, and hijack it to advocate extremism and hatred. But they do not represent the Islam that many of my friends follow, a religion of humility and striving to be better human beings.
The real challenge is who is going to win – the tolerant and progressive leaders of Islam, or the regressive ones?
It is up to us to uphold the tolerant and enlightened and respectful leaders who dedicate their lives to peace – as is the case with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Demonizing and isolating and chastising them is not a way to strengthen the moderate voices within Islamic countries!!!
Pat Condell writes about how Islam divides people into us vs. them, but he seems to miss the irony in that this is precisely what he does in his video posting by trying to portray all of Islam as intolerant.
It is true that diversity and tolerance are critical to a functioning democracy. But sermons like the one by Pat Condell are just as offensive to this notion as intolerant Muslims.
Contrast that to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Mr. Condell clearly has never met him. But more disturbing, he hasn’t even taken the time to research the Cordoba Initiative. The initiative was conceived by Imam Feisal almost a decade ago to celebrate the CO-EXISTENCE and DIVERSITY that characterized Cordoba during its golden age. Condell claims that the Cordoba Initiative was named that way to emphasize the conquest of Christianity by Islam. He should have started by doing some research!