Monday, July 19, 2010

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 107

The star-crossed former Deutsche Bank building will remain standing several weeks longer than the most recent anticipated finish date. The newest delay was the result of a discovery that part of the main crane disassembling the tower had a crack in it and needs to be replaced. That pushes the completed demolition until February 2011.

Meanwhile, former GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin has weighed in on the Cordoba House proposal, with a series of tweets (one of which included a mangling of refute and repudiate into "refudiate"). I'm sure that will add a whole lot of clarity to the situation. Everyone gets the gist of what she was trying to say, but the real issue is where the money is coming from. While several high profile sources include the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers, there are several disturbing links to groups that support terrorism - including Perdana Global Peace Organization. That group has links to the Turkish flotilla provocation incident where several activists engaged in violence against Israeli commandos securing the blockade against Gaza. It also has links to the virulently anti-Semitic former leader of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad.

The proposal is awaiting a decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and then would need City Council approval before getting a green light to build on the site - that is if it secures the necessary funding.

Historian John Esposito thinks that this is another manifestation of Islamophobia. I don't always agree with Esposito - and think Bernard Lewis is the more accurate historian when it comes to the influences and history of Islam and its interactions with other cultures, may have got it right in that the opposition could be traced to Islamophobia.

I can't speak for others, but the financing links suggesting ties to Mahathir and Perdana are troublesome and the group should explain itself. The proposed community center was pitched as a pluralistic endeavor along the lines of the 92nd Street Y or the JCC of Manhattan, and yet these linkages are of a sort that are an affront to that. Imam Rauf should explain how and why these groups are involved.

The Port Authority has released an updated FAQ on the 9/11 memorial and museum construction progress. The memorial is on schedule to be completed by the 10th anniversary next year, and the museum should be open in 2013.

To make this explicitly clear, let's restate exactly what the Cordoba House will and wont be.

It will be a mosque. It will also be a community center.

It is not located at Ground Zero. It is located two blocks north and isn't in direct line of sight with Ground Zero because several taller buildings will stand in the way. It will not be the tallest building on its block.

But the real problem with the opposition is that these opponents are falling into the trap of lumping all Muslims in with the fanatics/jihadis. It's why the Bush (and now Obama) Administration tried (and continue to try) to distinguish between the jihadis and the more than 1 billion Muslims around the world. It was to avoid the appearance of a clash of civilizations.

While one can fault the "war on terrorism" as a war on a tactic instead of a clearly delineated enemy, this was done so as to avoid feeding into the jihadi sentiment.

Opponents to the Cordoba House proposal are lumping the backers of the project in with the jihadis - which will drive off those who want tolerance and mutual respect - playing right into the hands of the jihadis who would use it as proof of the righteousness of their cause.

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