JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Arabs and Palestinians held a rally Thursday protesting the High Court of Justice's decision allowing construction of the Museum of Tolerance.
The court ruled that $250 million museum, underwritten by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, safeguarded religious sensitivities and did not compromise the nearby Islamic Mamilla Cemetery.
Muslims claim that constructing the museum near the cemetery violates its sanctity, where the graves of several friends of the prophet Muhammad are located, according to Islamic tradition.
"We came to announce to the entire world in the name of all Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and throughout the world - we will not reconcile with you and will not forgive you for violating the graves of our mothers, fathers and grandparents," deputy chairman of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, Sheikh Kamal Hativ told protestors.
"We will not forgive you for building the tolerance structure," he said. "The cemetery has in any case been in existence before Israel, and the graves of our forefathers will remain after Israel," the sheikh said, adding that the museum was funded by American Jews. \
With Allah's Help - Jerusalem Will Be the Capital of the Palestinian State
Addressing U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's statement to the AIPAC convention that Jerusalem must remain Israel's capital, Hativ said, "You will not decide. We Arab Palestinians, Christians and Muslims say that Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, with Allah's help."
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Weisenthal Center, said the Islamic Movement's attempt to use the Museum of Tolerance to rally Muslims against Israel would not succeed.
"The opposition to the move is not motivated by religious concerns but is a political attempt at a land grab by Islamic fundamentalists, who are in cooperation with Hamas, in the center of west Jerusalem," Rabbi Hier said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.
The construction site, which doesn't impinge on the Muslim cemetery, has been a parking lot for the past 45 years.
The al-Aksa Company for Development of Holy Muslim Assets petitioned the High Court to prevent the construction of the tolerance museum.
Source: The Jerusalem Post