CHICAGO, Aug. 20, 2010 — This statement was released today by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs:
In response to the ongoing debate about the plans to build an Islamic community center (“Park51”) in Lower Manhattan, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs states that it fully supports these plans.
The attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, was horrific, evil and tragic. The pain of the victims’ families is beyond description, and that tragic legacy should be commemorated. But we must not turn that pain and loss into fear and intolerance.
The attacks on the World Trade Center were an attack on our values and way of life. We must stand strong in the face of such an attack. Out of this tragedy, let the American spirit of freedom, tolerance and collaboration across racial, ethnic and religious lines prevail.
This is a unique moment in which we, as a society, can declare that we shall remain true to a core value upon which this country was founded: that no one among us should fear persecution or intolerance based on his or her religion, as guaranteed in the First Amendment. Let us send a message to Muslim Americans that we embrace them as full and equal American citizens.
As a minority faith community, Jewish Americans must stand for religious tolerance and pluralism. We must reject discourse around the plans for Park51 that is infused with fear and hatred, and deeply divisive. For decades JCUA has stood for equal rights and the full acceptance of diverse communities within our society. We are compelled to speak out when the freedoms of others are in jeopardy, just as we expect others to do so for us.
May Park51 be a beacon of hope and peace.