The Wiesenthal Center’s Peculiar Brand of “Tolerance”

By Eli Clifton

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been attracting negative publicity over the past several months for an event hosted at its LA museum and concerns that their Jerusalem museum is being built on an Islamic cemetery.

In May, the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance hosted a screening of the controversial documentary The Third Jihad which purports to discuss a recently discovered document which outlines how Muslims are intent on systematically dismantling western democratic institutions and imposing Shariah law in the United States. I have previously blogged about the striking similarities between this film and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and, with my colleagues, Daniel Luban and Ali Gharib have written several articles about the producers and distributors of the film. Here, and here.

The screening was co-hosted by the American Freedom Alliance who, as pointed out on Tikun Olam, “promotes networking, activism and education” in the following areas:

“* The Islamic penetration of Europe
* The collapse of academic freedom
* The identification and sources of media bias
* The growth of radical environmentalism
* The necessity for missile defense
* The dangers presented by the global governance movement”

While the Museum of Tolerance’s decision to screen such a divisive and explicitly anti-Muslim film certainly calls into question the sincerity of their commitment to “‚Ķprevent hatred and genocide from occurring to any group now and in the future,” news of their desecration of an Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem starts to paint a more consistent picture of an organization which has little interest in furthering understanding between Muslims and Jews in either the US or Israel.

Earlier this month news surfaced that the Wiesenthal Center–as part of their construction of a Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem–excavated 300 graves in a Muslim cemetery. The excavated skeletons were reportedly dumped into one mass grave.

Haaretz reports that the The Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information has led an initiative to declare the Frank Gehry designed museum ritually impure under Jewish law thereby preventing religious Jews from entering.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and Dean of the Wiesenthal Center, has consistently downplayed any objections from both Jews and Muslims about the destruction of grave sites as, “extremist agitation.”

“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,” he told the Jerusalem Post in 2008.

Perhaps Rabbi Hier’s assertion that a radical fringe group is trying to prevent the museum’s construction would have more credibility if he hadn’t exhibited such an abysmal track record when it comes to promoting constructive dialogue between Muslims and Jews or fighting bigotry against Muslims.

As it stands, it would appear that the Wiesenthal Center has become a useful nameplate for those seeking to disseminate anti-Muslim propaganda in the US and destroy Muslim sites of historic and cultural significance in Jerusalem.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. Tolerance is another word for the principle of the Golden Rule. I don’t know how you can love other’s as yourself when you believe you are specially chosen by God, part of “the Elect,” or somehow privileged. This self contradictory exceptionalism is evident in Jewish theology, American mythology and Christian theology. None of these are damned by this exceptionalism as each of these traditions challenges us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    This is a difficult challenge as it is nothing extraordinary to believe yourself special but all too common. We must struggle to see our ourselves in strangers and others. We must fight our selfish instincts. If loving your neighbor as yourself is the highest good, selfishness is sin.

    Jesus challenges us to love our enemies. Even awful people are charitable toward their own children. Charity and love are only important when they challenge us to reach beyond our own. Sadly, the Wiesenthal Center seems to have a hard time seeing the humanity of austranders.

  2. I can tell you without hesitation that if an attempt actually were made to impose Shariah law in the U.S., the American people would have no trouble dealing with it. I sometimes wonder what metaphysical planet urban intellectuals live on. The American people are well-armed and will willingly fight and dispose of a real enemy. A radical Muslim takeover of the U.S. is about as likely as Alvin the chipmunk being elected president.

    The whole idea is simply a canard. Those behind it and their ilk will stoop to anything to advance the radical Zionist agenda. This kind of thing always, eventually, blows up in the faces of the perpetrators. Unfortunately, sometimes a lot of innocent bystanders get blown up first.

    The business about the museum and desecrating a cemetary is shameful, if true. But I cannot say this often enough: why are we as Americans supposed to care? What is it to us if the sons of Abraham quarrel amongst themselves, and treat each other like dogs? Shame on them both! But what is it to us?

  3. Re: Sharia imposed on the USA — Christian Dominionist Sharia, maybe. Not Muslim Sharia. Muslims are more likely to be massacred than to take over.

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