I found the opinions of those quoted in “‘The wrong place’: Locals speak out against Cordoba House” (Aug. 20) to be embarrassing and disgraceful. First, let’s set the record straight. It’s not a mosque, it’s a community center, like a JCC or a YMCA. Second, there was another “ground zero” at the Pentagon. There’s a mosque in the Pentagon and it’s been there for decades, but no one seems to mind that mosque. This controversy is a cooked-up political issue. That three prominent members of our local Jewish community have been weak enough to step into this un-American political quagmire is deeply disappointing.
When the constitutionally guaranteed right to practice religion can be hijacked by political extremists, we are in real trouble. Let me look to some local examples of this. Rabbi Benjamin Shull should be able to identify with the cooked-up controversy that tried to stop Temple Emanuel from moving from Westwood to what was then St. Alphonsus College and is now Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley. The move was delayed by anti-Semitic bigots and their sympathizers. The Bergen County Y, a JCC in Washington Township, was delayed for years by the political machinations of bigots. In both these cases, the opponents of the U.S. Constitution used lots of bogus reasons for their opposition, like the need for tax ratables, potential traffic problems, etc., much like the bogus reasons put forth by the three interviewees in the article.
Where a JCC, Islamic community center, YMCA. or other religiously affiliated building can be located should not be subject to popularity polling, and, as Jews, we should certainly have enough historical perspective to recognize that it’s a slippery slope for us once any religious center can be squashed.