Following Haaretz Report: Arabs to Resume Museum of Tolerance Battle

Arab groups vow to step up opposition to construction on site of 1,000-year-old Muslim cemetery.

A battle against the construction of the Museum of Tolerance on the site of a Muslim cemetery will be reignited soon, according to sources in the Arab community.


The decision to resume opposition to the project follows a Haaretz investigation into excavation at the site, located in the Mamilla area of Jerusalem, and the damage it has caused to hundreds of graves there. The museum is being built by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

An Islamic organization for the preservation of Islamic trust property, which operates under the auspices of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement and spoke out against the project as soon as excavation work began, released a strong statement of condemnation yesterday. In this statement, the group said that the Haaretz report confirmed the substance of its arguments, including issues it had raised in court.

The statement also said the Haaretz report proves that Israel, with the support of parties from the United States, is committing criminal acts involving damage to Muslim graves, because they are Muslim, in disregard of the law and the Supreme Court. According to the group, the revelations about what was done at the site provide the basis for a petition to stop further
excavation at the museum site.

MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) sent an urgent letter to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) demanding that the body intervene immediately to prevent any further work from being done at the site. Zahalka said the cemetery was of historic, archeological and religious significance.

MK Masud Ganaim (United Arab List-Ta'al) of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement said he had also filed an urgent motion for the matter to be placed on the Knesset's agenda.

Attorney Kais Nasser, who had previously filed two petitions over the plans for the museum site, told Haaretz that the newspaper's investigation "in retrospect proves everything we argued before the court in the case".

"The museum plan was promoted without giving realistic weight to site from an archeological and historical perspective, or to the sanctity of the site," Nasser said.