Sunday, August 15, 2010
On August 3, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg standing on Governor’s Island departed from his usual style which is more suited to his technocrat image, and delivered the most heartfelt speech of his life. He was defending the right of the people who wants to build the Muslim community center near ground zero. He began citing from history, “We've come here to Governors Island to stand where the earliest settlers first set foot in New Amsterdam, and where the seeds of religious tolerance were first planted. We come here to see the inspiring symbol of liberty that more than 250 years later would greet millions of immigrants in this harbor. And we come here to state as strongly as ever; this is the freest city in the world. That's what makes New York special and different and strong.”
It was a long speech, and a visibly emotional mayor got choked up at one point. The mayor was accompanied by Council Speaker Christine Quinn and 10 religious leaders, among them three Jewish leaders— Rabbi Bob Kaplan from the Jewish Community Council, Rabbi Irwin Kula from the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and Cara Berkowitz from the UJA Federation.
It is remarkable that despite the general perception among Muslims that Jews are their arch enemies, they find, when chips are down; it is the leaders from the Jewish communities who stand by their side. And I say, there is a lesson to be learned in that.
It appears to me that at this time the most insensitive people, when it comes to religion, come from my fellow Muslims. Take for instance this very matter of ground zero mosque, when 70% American people are against it, why pursue this? The memory of loss of their loved ones is still fresh in many people’s minds. At least, why not defer the project till people are more receptive to it?
(First Published on Technorati)