When critics of Israel are labeled anti-Semitic, the question arises, “when is criticism of Israel not anti-Semitic?”
Alan Dershowitz answered this question as clearly as it can be; it is anti-Semitic when you hold Israel to a standard that you would hold no one else to. It becomes a prejudice when you hold one group to a standard you would expect no one else to bear.
The opposition to the Cordoba House or Ground Zero Mosque has crossed that line. Yes, yes I know we are addressing the sensibility of the issue to the families and the greater community of those lost at Ground Zero; we are not addressing the rights of the Muslims to worship as they please or build mosques anywhere else. And yes I realize that many Muslims also oppose the location because they fear it is making relations worse when the stated purpose is to make them better.
And yes I realize Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the project has raised points, even when the wounds of 9/11 were fresh that were very discomforting at best, patently offensive to many. But tolerance is not about tolerating only comfortable positions.
But in the voicing of our objections are we not holding American Muslims to a different standard? Do we hold all Muslims accountable for the actions of the most radical 7% to use Charles Krauthammer’s number, even if that number equals eighty million worldwide? Should we even hold them accountable if the percentage were higher? Either we do or we do not.
Would we be raising objections if the center were for a Hindu or Buddhist center? If not then we are holding them to a different standard.
Muslims have a very real problem addressing their radical element. Yet this monumental problem is not likely to be solved outside of their religion. We can either support their moderate elements or alienate their entire religion.
Yes, we should respect the feelings of the Ground Zero community and on that issue it would be better to relocate the Mosque. But we should tread cautiously with our rationale, for if we choose to hold any group to a different standard our own standards become suspect.