A group of Jewish leaders rallied Thursday in support of the mosque near the World Trade Center.The Shalom Center representatives say they needed to speak out after the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group that advocates religious freedom, criticized the Cordoba Initiative mosque and cultural center.
"We need this Islamic center to preach love and respect in contrast to those that preach hate and destruction," said Rabbi Richard Jacobs of the Westchester Reform Temple. "Here in this place, just a few yards from horrific pain and loss, let this Islamic center be a beacon of light and hope to our aching world."
“That is why we are here, to open the doors to peace, to dialogue, to affirmation of ‘the one’ that Jews and Muslims and Christians all celebrate,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center.
Members of the ADL held a protest near the site Wednesday.
"If you want to reach out, if you want to reconcile, if you want to show love, why not listen to the people who suffered, the families, the victims, the responders who say, not here; not in my cemetery," said Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League.
Another opponent of the project can be found in gubernatorial candidate Carl Palladino, who vows in his latest campaign advertisement, which was released today today, that he will do everything he can to prevent the center from being built.
"I am Carl Paladino and as governor I will use the power of eminent domain to stop the mosque and use the site as a war memorial, instead of a monument to those who attacked our country," he says in the TV ad.
A lawsuit was filed Wednesday
challenging the Landmarks Preservation Commission's vote not to declare the property on 45 Park Place a landmark.
The vote clears the way
for the demolition of the building and the construction of a 13-story mosque.
Daisy Khan, a co-founder of the proposed mosque, was also on hand for the rally Thursday.
"This outpouring of support today has strengthened our commitment to working with our Jewish brothers and sisters," Khan said.
A city Law Department spokeswoman said the department is confident the Landmarks Preservation Commission followed the appropriate procedures and legal standards.
The mosque's developer has said even if the landmark status was granted, the group would work around the existing building.
The center is expected to cost $100 million to build. The founders have not yet set a date for its completion.