An Intolerable Spot for a MuseumIf the media coverage is any indication, the Museum may have won the legal battle, but it has already lost the political one.
By Buzzy Gordon
Thu. Nov 20, 2008
In the Jewish community, the name Simon Wiesenthal is sacrosanct — which is why Rabbi Marvin Hier chose to establish his West Coast empire on the bedrock of the Nazi hunter’s reputation when Hier entered the institutional Judaism vacuum of Los Angeles 30 years ago. Over the course of the past three decades, the Simon Wiesenthal Center brand has been enhanced by its Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, but recent developments in Israel have begun to tarnish the institution’s reputation.
Jerusalem is too fragile a place for a flamboyant building, however well-intentioned, that creates ill will among a significant sector of the population that shows no signs of accepting it. As one call to action put it: “The legal battle has been lost… we must move on to the political battle.” Is a so-called Museum of Tolerance worth turning the Holy City into a battleground once again, in the 21st century?
Instead of such a grandiose scheme, let the center invite Arab architects to collaborate in designing a tasteful Garden of Tolerance on the disputed site, as an extension of the existing belt of green that is Independence Park.
At the same time, let the ambitious Gehry museum be built in an area where the most benefit can be derived, such as near the Jerusalem Forest’s Kennedy Memorial, or where Jews and Arabs can welcome it equally, such as on the road to Bethlehem or in the Galilee.