Fate of Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance Rests With Israeli High Court
Israel's highest judicial and executive authorities both have weighed in on the protracted dispute surrounding construction of a $200 million Center of Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance in the heart of Jerusalem. The ambitious Simon Wiesenthal Center project, designed by famed Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry, has been stalled since February, when the Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction halting any construction work. The court acted on a petition by two Palestinian groups, which asserted that the planned museum would sit atop an ancient and sacred Muslim cemetery.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center's founding dean, and his lawyers in Jerusalem have argued that the site has been used as a parking lot and underground garage for decades and that Islamic courts had ruled that the onetime cemetery had thus lost its sacred character.
Hier said that he had offered a number of compromises to resolve the dispute, but that the Muslim plaintiffs were stalling and "trying to run out the clock."
Attorney Durham Saif, representing the Palestinian side, said that in its most recent hearing in October, the court told the Wiesenthal Center to submit a redesign of the museum, so that construction would not damage the cemetery.
The next court hearing is scheduled Jan. 3, but in the meantime, Hier said, the delay has added more than $1 million to the cost of the project and has slowed down fundraising in the United States.
Friday, December 08, 2006
MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE UPDATE: From the Jewish Journal of greater L.A.: