Jews, Muslims, history, and the mosque “at” ground Zero

I came home from my tenth grade history class and announced, “Today we learned about the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Ottomans, and what a tragedy it was.” My father corrected me; “Not for the Jews, it wasn’t.” He went on to explain that the Ottoman Sultan, Beyazit I, in 1492 invited all the Jews of Spain, just expelled by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, to come live in peace in the Ottoman Empire, then the world’s most powerful. Thousands did, and lived peacefully and prosperously there for centuries, to this day.

Jews and Muslims have gotten on well for most of the time since the days of Mohammed, who honored Jews as “people of the book.” It’s easy today, looking at the enmity between Israel and some of her neighbors, to forget that Jewish culture thrived as never before or since in the “golden age of Jewish culture” in Muslim-ruled Spain, or that the Muslim Beyazit rescued the Jews of Spain and Portugal. Even the Jewish-Muslim conflict in the Middle East is over land, not religion.

So it’s nice to see so many Jews standing up for the rights of American Muslims to build Cordoba House, a community center with prayer area, 2-1/2 blocks from New York’s Ground Zero. NBC News reported, “Jewish Leaders Gather to Support Ground Zero Mosque.”

And Washington’s Jewish Week criticized the position of the Anti-Defamation League for not “standing up for our values — values that say not all Muslims should be blamed for the horrific, unforgivable deeds of a minority; values that say we are a welcoming, tolerant society, open to all religions, races and creeds; the very values hated by those who attacked us.”

The proposed center has also enjoyed the support of the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan, of the Shalom Center, and of Jewish elected officials such as Manhattan-based Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and most passionately of all, New York’s Jewish Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

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3 Responses to “Jews, Muslims, history, and the mosque “at” ground Zero”

  1. Sandy Trupp Says:

    Hi Bob,

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read on this subject. You make a very good point. Thanks, Sandy

  2. jack Says:

    Love your post on this. You are right on about Muslims regarding Jews as ‘people of the book’ and people shouldn’t forget that Islam shares the same prophets as Judaism and Christianity – Moses, Jesus and Abraham. True, Islam may not share the same dogma regarding Jesus as Christianity, but there are so many commonalities that I would hope that people won’t forget that Islam, Christianity and Judaism, share the same roots.

  3. Ethics Bob Says:

    People somehow can hate people who seem indistinguishable to the outside world. Shia and Sunni in Iraq, Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland, neighbors and relatives in Bosnia and Rwanda. And in Manhattan.

    It’ll be a better world if we each do our part to combat this hatred. It’s so sad that so many of our political leaders pander to this hatred.

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