August 14th, 2010
09:31 AM ET

Muslims oppose Israeli construction at Islamic cemetery

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/08/13/vo.cemetery.demo.cnn%5D

Eve Bower in Atlanta and Kareem Khadder in Jerusalem submitted this report:

Just before midnight on August 9, the bulldozers moved in and destruction of Jerusalem's best-known Islamic cemetery was once again under way.

The controversy surrounding the project - new construction on an area overlapping the cemetery of Ma'man Allah (God's Sanctuary) or Mamilla, as it is known in West Jerusalem - had simmered for years. That night, over 100 more graves in the ancient cemetery were demolished, further eroding what Palestinians see as a losing battle to preserve a sacred cultural landmark.

Mamilla, Jerusalem's oldest Islamic cemetery, dates back to the early days of Islam in the sixth century AD. Many of the people buried in the cemetery are believed to have been Islamic scholars and others who knew the Prophet Mohammad, including Islamic warriors who fought the crusaders in Jerusalem.

In more recent years, the cemetery has been in the spotlight amid controversy over Israel's plan to build a number of structures on top of the site, including the Museum of Tolerance, a parking lot, a park and an Israeli government building. The announcement of the construction plan outraged many Palestinians, who saw the project as one that desecrated holy land for the sake of a tourist attraction.

The Museum of Tolerance, affiliated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says that the site of the proposed development has not been part of the cemetery for almost 50 years, and cites as justification for the development's location a 1964 declaration by "the highest Muslim religious authorities" that the "entire area" was "an abandoned, ancient cemetery where public facilities may be built."

Palestinian groups petitioned the United Nations to intervene in efforts to go forward with the building project, but the Israeli courts ruled that since the graveyard had been in disuse for several decades, building could commence, and in 2006, the proposed development came one step closer to reality: Then-mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger laid the foundation stone for the museum.

Since then, sections of the cemetery have been periodically razed by developers seeking to move forward with new construction, but progress is halting, as protests from the cemetery's supporters occasionally result in the suspension of additional building.

On Monday, the Jerusalem Municipality, working as the project's developers, obtained the Jerusalem Magistrate Court's approval to resume demolition and the bulldozers moved in late Monday night. Journalists at the cemetery reported that police officers and private armed security personnel tried to bar filming and documentation of the efforts under way on the grounds that they were endangering their lives.

CNN shot footage of the tombstones being destroyed before journalists' access was denied. These same tombstones have emerged as yet another flash point in the controversy.

Opponents of the construction site argue that the tombstones that have been destroyed recently dated back to ancient times. There were Israeli media reports, however, that the tombstones that were destroyed had been added to the land only recently, with the intent to obstruct the construction project.

Israel's Channel 10 reported on August 5 that "in the last month, surprisingly, 150 new tombstones were added. The Jerusalem municipality decided to demolish the fake tombstones."

Zaki Ighbarieh, head of The Aqsa Foundation, said, "Their claim that we have built new graves is an excuse for them to destroy the entire cemetery. We will continue to repair the graves that were destroyed because the land is for graves."

He added, "We believe this is a completion of a land confiscation process by a museum and other venues like a parking lot and streets." The Aqsa Foundation is a group dedicated to preserving Islamic heritage and culture, and had undertaken the restoration of a number of the headstones.

The legal framework in which the grave preservations and demolitions happen is fraught with mixed messages and competing jurisdictions, leaving the permissibility of either action hotly contested by various groups.

The Aqsa Foundation challenges the legality of the demolition efforts of the past week, which it says have included the destruction of nearly 350 graves altogether.

"I can call it theft of graves," the group's lawyer, Mohammad Suleiman Ighbarieh said, due to the fact that demolition had restarted on August 3 without a court order. It was only after hundreds of graves were destroyed, Ighbarieh said, that the Jerusalem Magistrate gave approval for the demolition to resume.

According to the Aqsa Foundation, for the past year, the Islamic Sharia Court in Jerusalem has had a verbal agreement with the Municipality of Jerusalem to allow the Aqsa Foundation to carry out cemetery improvements and renovations of graves.

To resume grave demolitions, Aqsa spokesman Mahmoud Abu Atta argues, the developers would have needed to obtain agreement from the Islamic Sharia Court, which has been appointed with power of attorney as caretaker of the Mamilla cemetery.

Even where formal judicial approval for the demolitions is granted, the activity itself remains highly controversial.

"If they say they have court orders to demolish, then why are they demolishing in the middle of the night?" Abu Atta said.

Ighbarieh took photos and other evidence from the cemetery to the court and filed a formal request for the court to order that the grave demolitions stop.

The decision, issued Tuesday, August 10, mandated coordination with Islamic power of attorney in order for any construction to continue. This meant that if the municipality wanted to resume demolition from Tuesday onward, it would need the express consent of the Islamic Sharia Court.

Despite the Islamic Sharia Court's refusal to consent, on Tuesday night, demolition continued.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Interfaith issues • Islam • Israel • Judaism

soundoff (430 Responses)
  1. fed up

    How fitting, Jews who expect the world to observe and mourn it's losses and history show no regard for anyone else's. How disrespectful and utterly full of contempt Israel is. Trust me, most Americans have over the past two decades grown to regret their government's support of the state of Israel. Israel is no more an ally than any thieving, murdering scum, that smiles to your face and stabs you in the back.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  2. John

    It's after all a cemetery. what is the big deal.
    I don't know how many of you know of a conflict that happened in northern India. Temple was demolished in one of the hindus holiest places and a mosque was built centuries before. (Mosque was demolished by a group of Indians in 1990s and that became a conflict). There are many examples of muslim invaders demolishing the religious institutions of hindus/buddhists in the past centuries.
    Remember the muslim taxi drivers in minneapolis not allowing people to carry alcohol in their taxis. How to make these jackasses understand that the tolerance goes both ways.
    For a lot of muslims their religion is more important than the country they live in. Patriotism does not mean much. THat should explain the terrorist born into the immigrant population in Europe. Tolerance goes both ways. As far as I see, they don't care much about other faiths. With the glorious past, one would think they would shut the hole when it comes to a cemetery. not so soon.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  3. jefferson adams

    "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

    August 14, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  4. diesel2u

    It seems like Israel is fueling the fire for a war with the muslim (Islam followers) which in turn will also draw in christians for a religious war. The jews in my opinion will see this as a vision from the bible and see as the end of days coming.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  5. Jones

    Irony!! I know the Mosque thing isn't ON ground zero, but very similar feelings towards each. Get how we feel now muslims?

    August 14, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Issa

      Really Jon.. So I guess Al-Qaeda can tell us see how you feel when we flew the planes into the towers. You have been bombing us for years. See how it feels now. You are an ignorant bigot. Go kill yourself.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • Educated

      Issa, we have no reason to go kill ourselves. Our friends, Israel, is building a Museum. Good for them! Where can I send donations to help cover building costs? The mosque? Where can I send play weapons that I'm sure will be lining the walls, because that is the God of Islam terrorists!

      August 14, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • James

      apples and oranges. The outrage of the "ground zero mosque" is the fact that it is a mosque being build. There would be no outrage if it were a church or synagogue. The outrage over this is that fact that anything at all is being built on ON an cemetery (not two blocks away).

      August 14, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
    • mohawk067

      Thats right James it is a mosque, that represents muslims they are the ones that attacked us on 9/11 not a church or synagogue that represents God and tolerance. If you thnk that building a mosque is going to make muslims like us then you need to spreed some of the stuff that you are smoking around and let the rest of us live in bliss also. If you get some free time and are actually able to read and write go to the pulic library and read some of the koran and then come back and post and intelligent comment.

      August 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God


      You think churches and synagogues "represent God and tolerance"???? You have read all the Muslim-hating posts here, right? I'm betting they aren't being said by Muslims.

      A mosque to give Manhattan Muslims a place to worship hardly is representative of the Muslims who flew the planes. That would be like saying the average Southern Baptist church represents the black-church-bombing KKK.

      August 15, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  6. JennyH

    This is so sad...building a parking lot and museum over not only a historical landmark, but a cemetery too. How respectful

    August 14, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Educated

      Let's read Jenny. Oh wait, obviously you can't. Or you would of found the part where it says there was an agreement in 1964 that has never been reversed, that says Israel CAN build there. Now it's just time for typical Palestinian crying because Israel is doing something, and they are mad because it blocks their rocket attacks.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:03 am |
    • fed up

      Dear "Educated": typical Paletinian whining? Surely you jest, considering the bigger whiners are the ones doing the bulldozing. Maybe you need to do a little digging and discover why that "agreement" was made in 1964 before you spout off. But then again you'd explain away why Israel threatened the Palestinians into giving up the land.. Go ahead...find it, read it...and shut up.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:27 am |
    • Educated

      I have nothing to shut up about. The palestinian land belongs to Israel. End of story, theirs to do with as they wish.

      August 14, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
    • Mike

      So 'Educated' just admitted that the land is Palestinian in origin. And I quote, "The Palestinian land belongs to Israel". So the land is PALESTINIAN. Ok. Hmmm......then, can you tell me when this 'legit business' transaction took place where the Palestinian land was transferred to isreali control ? Oh yes, through years of haganah terrorist bombings, shady business deals, and outright bloodshed of native Palestinians with the demolition of their homes. Nazi Germany 2.0

      August 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • mohawk067

      Fed up site your source or shutup

      August 14, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • Educated

      Mike, I said it belongs to Israel. Learn English before you put down your crayons. Always has, always will. Idiotic people like yourself sure make the rest of us look intelligent. What a sore loser you must be in life, but you already knew that.

      August 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
  7. Lily

    Did any of you actually READ this article?

    It says, "[T]he site of the proposed development has not been part of the cemetery for almost 50 years . . . " AND refers to "a 1964 declaration by 'the highest Muslim religious authorities' that the 'entire area' was 'an abandoned, ancient cemetery where public facilities may be built.'"

    Muslims didn't consider this sacred ground in 1964. The whining now is nothing but typical Palestinian trouble-making.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • JR

      I read it and saw exactly that. Muslim authorities in 1964 declared it okay to build on, but NOW SUDDENLY IT"S SACRED?

      No, it's not, it's just a pawn in the conflict between the two factions. It's a piece of ground OUTSIDE of the cemetary area but it's being used as a stick for political posturing. That way the outside world can go 'oh poor them!' instead of going 'what is your problem?'

      And I also iknow that anyone who knows anything about Israel as a protector of archeological minutiae also knows that they wouldn't build on anything ancient that was of importance to any culture. They're the ones protecting those structures and sites.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • Alvin

      CNN has a reputation for misrepresenting the truth.. remember that recent article about the taliban executing a pregnant woman.. it wasn't a pregnant woman, she had just killed her newborn which is why she was executed. Islam is constantly being given a bad image by these distorted reporting. Read the Quran in full then come back and tell me that Islam represents hatred or peace. I challenge anybody to read this book without prejudgment and then decide for themselves.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • JR

      Let me also add that the title of this article is misleading.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • Educated

      Dare they let Israel advance? NOOO I bet anything they are only mad because that museum will have a good wall beside it, that will block one of their prime rocket shooting lanes into the Israeli public from within that Tombstone laden land, great hiding spots in there!

      August 14, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • fed up

      I'm sorry Lily, but there are a lot more jokes about Jewish whining than there are about Muslim whining, why do you think that is? We already know Israel never takes responsibility for any of it's bullying actions and it's official policy is denial and diffusion. The state of Israel is now a joke that non Jews regret was ever formed or supported. They're like the kid in school you wanted to mash in the face for being rude and egotistical.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:23 am |
    • Lal

      If you had done a little more research, you'd know that this socalled "highest Muslim religious authorities" that made the judgement that the cemetary was abandoned (as if the graves just stop being there) was in fact an Israeli appointed and paid judge (state employee) who was subsequently removed from office for corruption. Trying to pass him off as "highest Muslim religious authorities" is just another convenient lie one has to perpetuate to justify desecrating graves.

      August 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • gambino

      #1. i've been to this cemetary, an abandoned, run down lot, trashed, unclean, ZEEEEROH UPKEEP. #2. Located across the road from a busy U.S. offices of diplomats. #3. Dark, dangerous to cut thru at nite. #4. Jewish land. (am i allowed to say that? it's Jewish land? Is that going to offend anyone?) sorry if i upset any Jew haters.

      August 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • D

      What if in a hundred years after your dead and buried someone decided your "not worth it anymore" and they build a McDonalds or a parking lot over your grave. Don't you think your family would be outraged? I sure would be if I was related to you.

      August 14, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • Chuck in Jasper Ga

      I agree. I can read and comprehend as well. The article does indicate that it had been declared abandonned not by the Irseali's but by a 1964 declaration by "the highest Muslim religious authorities" that the "entire area" was "an abandoned, ancient cemetery where public facilities may be built.". If in fact this is a true statement, then it would certainly appear that the only reason it is an issue is to create more hatred towards Israel. If it is true, screw them.

      August 14, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
    • gmash

      Wow Lily – "The whining now is nothing but typical Palestinian trouble-making". you sound real objective!! If you truly cannot see anything wrong with this, you have problems. I petty your ignorance.

      August 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
    • Rotties4


      August 14, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  8. Alvin

    CNN – why are you suppressing my views here.. I just think that jews appear to have different rules than everybody else. If fairness is not necessary in society anymore than we no longer can be considered civilized any more.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  9. Alvin

    Well it seems that muslim lives and even their dead have a lesser value in this day and age.. I am for fair balance in everything, there is all this complain about a mosque in downtown Manhattan which is several blocks away from the WTC location and people consider it so offensive to build that center yet this is building a parking lot ontop of a sacred burial ground.

    this is pure hypocrisy... jews it seems are allowed different rules, their rights go above everybody else.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  10. Dr. George Brehman


    August 14, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • JR

      It is all in the name of Tolerance and Progress my friend. Doesn't your religion teach that? If not? Why not?

      August 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Chris

      What I think is amazing about this is the timing. While the comparison between the two situations (destruction of the Muslim graveyard and the building of a Mosque on or near ground zero of 9/11) are not perfectly alike, they are close enough that the similarities are striking. I think Israel should walk away from this. I think the Muslims trying to build a Mosque on or near ground zero should walk away from it too. With these two situations going on, you don't even have to ask "How would you feel if...?"

      August 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
    • SayWhaaa!!

      Chris if ground zero is what you call a cemetery then a freakin tower won't be built right now over their graves and that mosque is two blocks away from ground zero, a landing gear fell on that building, maybe a landing gear memorial is in order.

      August 16, 2010 at 2:15 am |
  11. Alvin

    My second question is what was Arnold from California laying the foundation for this desecration.. surely he had more important things to do back home in California. it is an insult that a us governor would travel to another country and help to raze a sacred burial ground.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  12. diesel2u

    Jews can do whatever they want, it seems

    August 14, 2010 at 10:30 am |
    • Jon

      Compared to letting the muslims have their way....you bet.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Educated

      On their land, yes they can. It's not like they are coming into NYC, and building a Mosque as close to ground zero as they can. Oh wait, Islamic people are doing that, and the USA is bending over and taking it up the bunghole for them!

      August 14, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • steve

      Educated your name is an oxymoron. on their land? it isnt their land, its a muslim cemetery. and as opposed to ground zero? the muslim org. that bought the land is american they arent invaders. they are american and bought land legally.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:26 am |
    • mohawk067

      Steve and the rest of you idiots did you'll even read the whole article or did you just skim it "A 1964 declaration by "the highest Muslim religious authorities" said that the "entire area" was "an abandoned, ancient cemetery where public facilities may be built." And as for you morons from NY that are for the mosque, "where is the money coming from to build it" and yes they are going to teardown the old building and put up a new one that was the whole reason a group of real americans tried to get it made into landmark status so they couldn't tear it down.

      August 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • Kevin

      I still don't get the outcry about the community center with a mosque in it 2 or 3 blocks from ground zero. We have freedom of religion in this country. It isn't like it is sitting on the site between the two towers. People need to get over it. How close is too close...a mile...another state...maybe in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?

      August 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • Sasha

      Maybe they could make a trade; the temple mount for the cemetery.

      August 14, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • mike

      to answer your question about how close is too close? How about Iran? That's not too close for me.
      Until Muslims start respecting the feelings and sensitivities of others I have ZERO respect for them. NONE, NADA, NIL.
      Go back from whence ye came if you don't like it, that's all I have to say. I didn't invite them here.

      August 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
    • Carol

      I live in Boston. So it would be okay for the City of Boston to bulldoze over old burial grounds – those who have the remains of revolutionary heroes because they haven't been in use for decades?
      And if someone wanted to bulldozer the oldest Jewish cemtery in America to build a parking lot on, Isreal wouldn't object to that? Just like Isreal didn't object to Catholic Nuns building near a concentration camp.
      Isreal has always had double standards – one for them and one for everyone else.

      August 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
      • Jeff B.

        No, Carol..it is the WORLD who has a double standard when it comes to Israel.
        Hammas/Hezbollah can use human shields – but Israel cant fire at them;
        They can be attacked in a flotilla, but Israel cant defend themselves;
        8 months, hundreds of rockets into Israel, no one says a word, until Israel retaliates.
        No wonder Israel tells the world to GFYS – no matter what they do, they are condemned.
        Are the Arabs ready to give Israel back the Dome of the Rock area ?
        I SUPPORT ISRAEL. 100 %!!!!

        August 14, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  13. zacharia

    I wonder what would happen if Aushwitz were to be demolished to make room for a parking lot?! Even the dead can't rest in peace.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • sparknut

      Do you remember the outcry when it was proposed to build a convent across from Auschwitz?

      August 14, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  14. Texan

    Buried deep in the article was the FACT that the muslims were placing fake tombstones in areas that were not part of the cemetary but on Israeli national park land. Also not mentioned was the FACT that Israel found empty water bottles, sewage pipe, and other debris buried under these FAKE tombstones. When you talk about facts on the ground, make sure you report the real facts; muslims trying to steal Israeli land. Another fact that doesn't make it into the lamestream news is that the UN partitioned the middle east creating an Israeli state and a palestinian state (Jordan), but the arab countries rejected this. Many of the arab states weren't even countries in 1948 when Israel became the homeland for the Jewish people. Ancient relics found in Israel dates back over 3,000 years, 1,500 years before islam was invented.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  15. Alvin

    who else will tolerate this kind of land grabbing. if this had been done in any other part of the world there would be international condemnation and it simply would not be possible to do this. why is this one rogue entity allowed to get away with daylight robbery. let me ask the question.. how should the affected people respond, just sit there and take it on the chin?

    August 14, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  16. TRS

    Wow, so how much are we letting Isreal get away with against the Palestinians before we cry foul?

    Seriously, this is sick. It's a cemetary!

    August 14, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • ah2

      Hold on there Cowboy, It is well recorded that any time the Umayyad or Abbasid forces took over a city they forbade their troops from desecrating any house of God, which included Churches and Synagogues. You cited one example of Muslims building over a Jewish Synagogue, but the site was built over a sacred spot for Muslims. If you look around the Middle East there are hundreds of Temples and Churches that predate Islam which are still standing and functioning that were conquered during the Abbasid and Umayyad Chliphates.

      August 14, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
    • Chimo

      Apparently alot of people didnt read the fact that the highwest muslim authority in Jerusalem in 1964 said that the ground in questions was of no usew and could in fact be used for public construction. The only reason people are complaining about it now is that Israel annexed East jerusalem and united it with West Jerusalem so that there is only 1 Jerusalem, and lots of people (especially muslims) don't t like that. They think the Eastern half should be Palesinian, but that's a crock of bs as far as I'm concerned. Normally i would say that the Israelis sholdn't do this, but seeing how many jewish cemetaries and synogogues have been destroyed in areas ruled by Palestinians, I can't say I blame the Israelias one bit

      August 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • Biots

      Hold on there, Muhammad. Muslims destroyed most of the temples of the Karmic religions of South Asia and built their mosques on their rubble. Remember the Bamiyan Buddhas? This was just recently.

      August 14, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
    • fcb

      wow, learn how to spell "cemetery" smart one...

      August 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  17. Kermit Roosevelt

    Muslims built the Dome of the Rock over Solomon's Temple. Muslims have built mosques over Judeo-Christian sacred places for centuries. Nice to see the trend getting rolled back.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • steve

      muslims built their sacred grounds over christian sacred ground because they view it as connected as they believe in jesus. its out of respect that they continue the site as sacred. as opposed to this bull where they are not respecting sanctity at all.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:24 am |
    • stan t

      the second temple was destroyed by the romans 600 years before the dome of the rock was built. if the israelis want to use this cemetary for parking space i suggest they wait 600 years after romans raze the cemetary.

      August 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • Kermit Roosevelt

      Nice try, Stan. Yes, I know it was the Romans who razed it, but the fact is that the Jerusalem mosque sits defiantly on Judaism's only true shrine.

      In addition, the cemetery in question is centuries old.

      So, I see what you're trying to say, but the fact is that you failed. Go back to your madrasa and wait for our drones.

      August 14, 2010 at 7:42 pm |

    Now Muslims know how Americans feel about ground zero.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • zacharia

      really guy? great way to compare apples and oranges. you can't relate the two issues. the mosque isn't being built on ground zero or on graves..

      August 14, 2010 at 10:31 am |
    • Jon

      Zach, you're an idiot. The ground zero site is a killing ground and it deserves the same respect as any cemetery anywhere.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • Nunzi

      It works for the Muslims, (Ground Zero) why not for the Jewish people?!!

      August 14, 2010 at 10:43 am |
    • Alvin

      Well the mosque is not on the WTC site.. it is clearly a couple of blocks away.. it is not a new building it is an old building that will be renovated.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • sparknut

      When all of the bodies of those killed by Islamic terrorists in the Twin Towers are recovered and properly buried, then the site may no longer be considered a cemetery. But that will never happen since many of the bodies were turned to dust.

      It's all about respect – and in this case Israel does not respect the Muslim cemetery and in NY the Muslims do not respect those lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • Educated

      It would be interesting to know what those Muslims feel about a Mosque near ground zero, compared to a museum over a possibly ancient burial ground. We already see them pulling media propaganda with fake tombstones. Oh yea, one thing, it's Israel's land, no one else owns that land, they can do what they please with it, including make a Museum, or a Parking Lot.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • nzak

      The difference being is that the Mosque being built in NYC, is TWO BLOCKS AWAY from and out of sight of Ground Zero. This on the other hand is being built DIRECTLY on top of and DESTROYING the graves.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:04 am |
    • miche

      for the last time THE PROPOSED MOSQUE/CULTURAL CENTER IN FiDi/TriBeCa IS NOT, I REPEAT NOT ON THE WTC SITE. From someone who lives the block between the proposed site and the WTC site and who is not offended.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • steve

      idiots, its not the same as the ground zero issue. they arent demolishing parts of ground zero to build something on it. its a lot that will have something on it anyways, whether its a starbucks or a cultural centre. it isnt part of ground zero its next to it. here the israelis are demolishing graves and paving over them. morons.

      August 14, 2010 at 11:22 am |
      • Scott S.

        So right Steve...and by the way, what does how the Muslims react to the Israelis have to do with our Constitution? ***Just a note*** the Community Center is not being built at ground zero, where the tragic death of so many people occured, but two city blocks away...I'm guessing that the Muslim population would not have an issue with the Israelis digging and paving two blocks from their cemetaries.

        August 16, 2010 at 12:18 am |
    • Alert Sooner

      get some education!

      August 14, 2010 at 11:48 am |
    • Kam

      First of all there are Americans that are Muslim. Those two aren't mutually exclusive. And there were Muslims who died in the World Trade Center. The site of the proposed Muslim community center (not just a mosque) is not even on Ground Zero. 9/11 is not sacred ground as there are plans to develop it. It has been a temporary memorial, but never sacred ground. Lastly, you guys don't seem this passionate when you destroy Native American sacred sites for your own benefit. And I'm not talking about in the past, I'm talking about very recently. Do some googling, you'll find many examples. It's very hypocritical. You expect the type of respect that you have not given to other Americans.

      August 14, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • Chris R

      Don't speak for everyone there sparky. I'm fully behind the community center. Heck, if I had my way you'd build it on ground zero itself. Why? Because we, as a nation, are supposed to be better than petty religious vindictiveness. We are suposed to be the best nation in the world. When are we goign to start acting like it?

      August 14, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
      • creature

        Unfotunately when the hippies put on thier clothes and took over in Washington Its been a downhill slide eversince!! Bring back America PLEASE and soon before its too late!!!!!

        August 15, 2010 at 10:18 am |
        • Matt J.

          The depths of your confusion is simply astounding. The "downhill slide" was the 8 years of Bush misrule. Since then, things have actually been getting better in Washington. Just look, for example, at all the good Secretary Gates has been able to accomplish revamping our military - with the full support of the President.

          Of course, things would get better quickly and by a lot more if Sen. McConnell and Rep. Boehner would stop acting like spoiled brats on a kindergarten playground, digging in their toes and shouting "NO!" whenever the President tries to do good for the whole country, but that is another topic.

          August 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm |
        • SDL


          August 23, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
      • Mental issues

        Dude, you need medication. You have some serious mental issues.

        August 25, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
    • usarmymed

      Since when is it being built ON ground zero? Comparing apples and oranges.

      August 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
    • Are You Really That Ignorant?

      The problem with your theory of "building a mosque" at ground zero is two fold: 1. They are not "building" anything. The building already exists. So, to compare knocking over ancient burial graves of ones faith to converting a Burlington Coat Factory store into a faith center is just ignorant. 2. It is not a "mosque". It is a cultural center. And, to say, "well, they will be doing Muslim stuff there" is also ignorant as of course they will, but that's no different than the "prayer" sessions of the Christian faith happening in the White House. I guess if you are white (and, sometimes black) and a Christian (and sometimes Jewish), it is okay. But any shade different, you are SOL!

      August 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • steven harnack

      What part of three blocks away from ground zero can't get through your thick head? Are there any airline offices within that zone, after all, it was airplanes that did the damage. That makes just as much sense as blaming all Muslims for the actions of one warped bunch that doesn't represent even 1% of world Muslims.

      August 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm |

      If you think about it....really hard, as the Trade Center buildings were burning people were being incinerated/cremated, their remains escaping with the vast amounts of smoke coming from the buildings settling as ash only God knows where. If you think about it, as the buildings pancaked and collapsed turning massive amounts of cured concrete into a fine powder that raised up into the air and bellowed outward covering everything within an unknown radius, from rooftops, on streets, on peoples bodies, in their hair, and yes, even inside peoples lungs, Do you not think that the bodies of the unfortunate victims were not part of that bellowing cloud? Ground Zero, and a great radius around it is indeed a burial ground.......

      August 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • sdhello


      August 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • SBinSanJose

      Are you an idiot or a bigot? They are nothing alike, it'd be similar if they were trying to build a mosque on top of Arlington National Cemetery, not 3 blocks from the WTC on private land.

      August 14, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • Tracy

      It's interesting to me that most of the people in the US who decry the mosque in NYC don't live here, don't know the area and, in many (if not most) cases, have never even been here. Those of us who are here, who know the layout well, and who were directly affected by the attacks in an immediate way in our daily lives, are generally in support of the mosque.

      For the record, I'm Catholic and I lost someone in the attacks. I have Muslim friends who lost people that day, too, and some of them are still affected by the fallout because of the prejudice that seems to be acceptable these days. They're probably angrier about the radicals in their religion than any of us non-Muslims.

      Now, then, from an historical perspective, why isn't everyone up in arms over the destruction of a cemetary that's that ancient? That's the kind of landmark that sounds like preserving to me. It certainly doesn't sound like something that should be paved over, and I don't care whose religion or culture it is – as humans we're losing something here that we can't get back. Remember the giant Buddha carvings in Afghanistan? The whole world went nuts when those were destroyed by the Taliban, and it wasn't just Buddhists and Afghans who were outraged.

      August 14, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
      • Carol

        I agree with what you wrote.
        The world was vocal when the Taliban blew up the centuries old Buddhist statutes.

        August 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • Common Sense

      If you say lower Manhattan constitutes a cemetery or sacred ground and no one can build anything on a cemetery or a sacred ground, then you could never build anything in lower Manhattan ever. Think about how stupid that would be. Would you want to place an economic shackle on lower Manhattan in perpetuity? No. In fact, development in lower Manhattan takes place all the time. The cemetery argument for lower Manhattan fails. Instead the argument operates as a smoke screen for religious animus.

      This issue is quite different. We need to discuss the authenticity of the tombstones. Simple tests on the land will prove whether this land is in fact a cemetery. Conduct the tests and make the construction of the museum dependent on those tests.

      August 14, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • WhatTheHuh

      amen rock!

      August 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
    • WhatTheHuh

      hey nzac-they found body parts on 9-11 a lot farther than two blocks away....

      August 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
    • Seriously y'all, get a grip

      the mosque isn't at ground zero. do your research.

      August 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • D

      Really...last I checked they weren't building a Mosque ON Ground Zero, its two blocks away. As I'm sure these Palestinian people wouldn't be complaining if the "center of tolerance" was built two blocks away from their cemetery and not ON TOP OF IT.

      August 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
    • Whopee

      I'm not so certain about that. 'Ground Zero' is still fresh on our minds...maybe they need to just wait....let them go ahead and build that mosque near 'Ground Zero'. Fill it up.

      August 14, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
    • SweetAdeline

      NO ONE IS BUILDING A MOSQUE AT GROUND ZERO. It's blocks away in a building that used to house a Burlington Coat Factory! The whole discussion is effing ridiculous.

      August 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • Sir Craig

      For all the morons who continue to push the 'mosque on Ground Zero' idiocy: It is NOT ON GROUND ZERO. It is two blocks away at the abandoned Burlington Coat Factory Building. It is NEAR Ground Zero, but it is NOT Ground Zero. It is on private property. As SBinSanJose stated, the mosque is NOT being built on top of Arlington, so get passed your ignorance and false comparisons.

      Israel is most definitely destroying an historical cemetery. Even if, as the article mentions, 150 tombstones were fake, there were still another 200 graves that weren't fake that the Israelis destroyed. What kind of idiotic, thoughtless act is this? I swear, it is as if Israel wants the entire Arab world to hate its guts. Actions like this make it impossible for me to care anymore what happens to Israel.

      August 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • Hannah

      What is wrong with the world?? This is completely outrageous. You cannot compare this to the ground zero situation. No one is buried in ground zero AND the mosque is not even going to be built ON that site. This however is completely different. Israelis have bulldozed through people's graves....that is disgusting!! For crying out loud, let the palestinian people live in peace, they are not even sparing those that are dead and buried!!!

      August 14, 2010 at 6:37 pm |
      • Carol

        No but hundreds lost there lives at Ground Zero.. Would it be okay to build a shopping mall at Gettysburg?

        August 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
        • Hannah

          Carol, I do not know anything about Gettysburg sorry. Therefore I cannot comment! Please could you educate me about what happened there....I hope I don't sound stupid.

          August 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
        • Matt J.

          'Hundreds'? Try 'thousands'. As in about 3000. As for parking malls at Gettysburg, don't give them ideas! In this recession, they just might do something like that!

          August 16, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
    • Anonymous

      for the last time, you IGNORANT IGNORANT people
      1) they are not building a mosque, it is a multi-cultural center which will include a mosque
      2) it is NOT AT the site of ground zero, it's almost 3 blocks away from the ground zero site
      and there is absolutely NO comparison between taking away a muslim cemetery and building a mosque
      for the most part, you guys should realize that it is a issue hyped up by the politicians for their own personal gain by exploiting your ignorance !

      August 14, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
  19. Ali

    Museum of Tolerance on top of land that is snatched from other people. Yeah fits perfectly.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  20. jagskat

    bulldoze a cemetery to build a museum of tolerance..
    oh ya and a parking lot.

    August 14, 2010 at 10:19 am |
    • The World's Common Enemy

      Well, looks like the common enemy of the world has become the white Christian and Jews. They have been working together for centuries. I say that everyone else bands together to stop the worlds common enemy! It would be an epic movie!

      "The year is 2150. For the past 100 years, the Jews and Christians of the world have enslaved the religions of the world for their personal money grubbing and power controlling gains. Now, the Jews and Christians are out numbered by Hinduism, Islam, Buddism, and Jainism, by 20 to 1. And, the Atheists have joined the fun to take out the ruling religion. Jews and Christians better be scared!"

      August 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
    • Peanuts

      at least 50% of those "ancient" tombstone say made in china...........go figure what their ancestors are

      August 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • Peanuts

      Muslim is the new Black HURRAY EQUALITY!!!

      August 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • ProphetMuckhammad

      This is a religious war folks. The sooner the U.S. realizes that, the better off we'll be. No one from the middle east should be allowed to live on U.S. soil. Sooner or later, it'll happen. We rounded up the Japanese, didn't we? Why? Cause they were the enemy. Right, wrong, or otherwise. When at war, you racial profile. Period. It's almost like the U.S. needs something horrific to occur before any of this will happen.
      I fear the U.S. has become too pussy whipped to really deal with this problem head on. But to solve this problem, remove all U.S. soldiers from all parts of the world, bring em home, kick out the Muslims, protect our borders with our new influx of troops, cut off all foreign aid, become an isolationist super power and shoot to kill anyone that attempts to cross into our sovereign territory illegally. Fight or let them win. I say we stop pussy footin around and start becoming realistic about how we deal with third world garbage.

      August 14, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • BigKidneys

      This makes a whole lot of sense! Something so sacred and historical to the world and not just muslims and they go and destroy it to build a museum? I am in the military and a christian yet understand that one must be tolerant of all religions. Israel is completely getting out of hand. How can you say you want peace yet do something like this? Makes no freaking sense at all. You deserve any ramifications that come from this and hopefully one day our govt. won't back you on stupid crap like this! And yes, my educational background is history so this is a sore spot for me no matter what religion is involved... Wake up Israel! You will never have peace by bullying and doing ignorant stuff like this...

      August 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • gMan

      Build an outhouse above it. Tolerance is the word of the year.

      August 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • don

      Outraged Pal's can thank themselves for being intolerant of old Jewish cemeteries. When two beautiful towns within the west-bank area of Israel were turned over to the Pal's, the first thing they did was dig up the Jewish cemeteries and desicrate the bodies. Then to make matters even worse, they turned those beautiful towns into trashy ghetto structures. They cannot build, only destroy, if if they are losing a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, they can only blame themselves.

      But don't jump to conclusions; as a genealogist I honor all cemeteries, wherever they are, no matter. Color or race has nothing to do with that aspect.


      August 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • autom

      The people opposing the building of that Mosque probably wouldn't bat an eye if a Church or Christian based memorial were built to "honor" the people (of all faiths and lack thereof) that died that day.

      August 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
    • DavidINlafayette

      I have always supported Israeli efforts to have a homeland. However, I can't embrace Israeli rights without offering the same to Palestenians. To take it to another level – Christians, Jews and Muslims need to come to the table with and outside mediator. Jerusalem should be a shared holy city. As for running a John Deere through a graveyard, do that in the US, the UK or anywhere else in the Western world and watch all hell break out. Do it to a Jewish cemetery and watch what happens. For the life of me I can not understand Israeli expectations. They same to be doing the same to Palestinians as was done to them. After 50 years, we shouldn't give them a dime. Come to the table make it work.

      August 14, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
    • Stemwede-Dielingen

      This is every bit as disrespectful as building a mosque at Ground Zero. I wonder that Muslims can't see the comparison. Or do they not care?

      August 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • Mark Pharr

      This is so evil. Ok take the land – but return the bones to the Muslims for reburial

      August 14, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • NIgeerino

      Wtf? Destryoing graves is a HORRIBLE thing to do! No wonder nobody likes Israel!!

      August 14, 2010 at 5:59 pm |
    • Abbas

      I totally support the action that Israel took. Its okay for the freakin muslims to Destory Buddist Historical Stautes in non-muslim countries by when muslim get their hisroeical artifacts destroy they expect the world to be sorry for them

      August 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
    • Abbas

      I totally support the action that Israel took. Its okay for the freakin muslims to Destory Buddist Historical Stautes in non-muslim countries by when muslim get their hisroeical artifacts destroy they expect the world to be sorry for them. I don't feel sorry for the infdels

      August 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • patricia Fodor

      I see absolutely nothing wrong with this after all the muslum population wants to build a mosque on the ground zero site which is the cementary for 3000 americans who lost their lives to terrorism. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander. if they don't want this to de done then by all means the muslums should not do it to other people. when it comes to respecting other peoples rights the muslums do not respect anyones rights other than themselves.

      August 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    • adamk116

      For all of you Ignorant people who are talking about the Mosque NEAR Ground Zero. There are over 1.2 million Muslims living in New York City. Out of a total of 8.5 million people. A Mosque near Ground Zero is a sign that America understands religion, not some stupid extremists that put a plane into the buildings. For all of your ignorant people that don't know about New York or never been there.. Don't say shit.

      About demolishing a Muslim cemetary from the 5th Century is absolutely absurd. The Zionists are really going far these days. Nobody stops them, is what kills me. WE might as well give them everything. They will keep taking and taking.

      August 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
    • sipapu

      This is an outrage! Again and again the Jews have demonstrated that they don't give a crud about the Palestinians by perpetrating cultural atrocities such as the desecration of the Muslim cemetary. Is there nothing sacred for the Muslims to adhere to Israel? Is the Al Aqsa mosque slated to be leveled next to make way for an Israeli shopping center? Funny that I recently watched Netanyahu on CNN declaring that he was ready to start a meaningful dialogue again with the Palestinians. Listening, talking, and intervention on behalf of those folks trying to defend the destruction of the cemetary would be a good start.

      August 14, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • mike

      tolerance begins with the abandonment of the mosque in NYC. Once that is done we can begin to discuss issues outside our own borders of the U.S. that relate the the insensitivities of Jews in relation to Muslims.

      August 14, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
    • Sheeple

      Disrepect is disrepect. Disrespect those who died and their families at the WTC and those who lay dead in the cemetery. Building a mosque and a museum is not illegal in both cases. Move along.

      August 14, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
    • wasabiwahabi

      Intolerance, you say? Go to the source, "Put them to the sword; that is the punishment for such unbelievers. If they cease hostility, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Fight against them until there is no more disorder and Allah’s supremacy is established."

      August 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • marye

      Apparently we are going to be forced to endure a Muslim Mosque in the area their spawn destroyed and killed thousands of people. I wonder if they will see the parallel?

      August 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
    • LouieD

      Hey autom:
      Seeing as how Christian elements didn't take credit for the 9/11 attacks, there would be no reason to "bat an eye" if somebody wanted to build a Christian church. Please tell me you can make better analogies than that.

      August 14, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
    • Genius

      If you had done a little more research, you'd know that this socalled "highest Muslim religious authorities" that made the judgement that the cemetary was abandoned (as if the graves just stop being there) was in fact an Israeli appointed and paid judge (state employee) who was subsequently removed from office for corruption. Trying to pass him off as "highest Muslim religious authorities" is just another convenient lie one has to perpetuate to justify desecrating graves.

      August 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
    • PapaKat

      I'm sure the Muslims are getting what they deserve – say doesn't this sound an awful lot like putting a mosque at ground zero. Whose whining now?

      August 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.