Friday, February 10, 2006

Israel plans to build 'museum of tolerance' on Muslim graves

You can't get more cynical than that.

Skeletons are being removed from the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem to make way for a $150m (£86m) "museum of tolerance" being built for the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Palestinians have launched a legal battle to stop the work at what was the city's main Muslim cemetery. The work is to prepare for the construction of a museum which seeks the promotion of "unity and respect among Jews and between people of all faiths".

Israeli archaeologists and developers have continued excavating the remains of people buried at the site - which was a cemetery for at least 1,000 years - despite a temporary ban on work granted by the Islamic Court, a division of Israel's justice system. Police have been taking legal advice on whether the order is legally binding. The Israeli High Court is to hear a separate case brought by the Al Aqsa Association of the Islamic Movement in Israel next week.

Ah, yes, nothing like the good old sense of humour you inherited from your former oppressors. I bet your grandparents who laughed at the slogan 'Work makes you free' at Auschwitz are going to split their sides over this one!

Osnat Goaz, a spokeswoman for the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is carrying out the excavations, said it was common in Jerusalem to build on cemeteries. Adding that in such cases the bones were reburied, she said: "Israel is more crowded with ancient artefacts than any other country in the world. If we didn't build on former cemeteries, we would never build."

Nope, nothing to do with ethnic cleansing at all. Nothing to do with how hundreds of Arab villages were wiped out, depopulated and renamed half a century ago.

If you have so many old cemetaries, then why don't you build on your own?


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