Palestinian and international human rights activists on Wednesday petitioned the United Nations to stop the construction of a museum on the site of a medieval Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, saying it would disturb centuries-old graves.

"We have nowhere else to go," Rania Madi of the Palestinian rights group BADIL told reporters in Geneva, where the petition was filed.

The group said construction of the museum would violate Muslim religious and cultural rights, and such a project would never have been undertaken if the site was home to Jewish graves. At a news conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday to coincide with the filing of the petition, local resident Jamal Nusseibeh said his extensive family is buried at the site. "We have been fighting for this for years to preserve these graves. Its a chain that goes back to 1432 when my ancestor was buried there and it is part of the rich fabric of Jerusalem that is a symbol of tolerance," he said. "So why destroy this to build a museum?"

The name of the proposed museum will be The Museum of Tolerance. Exhibits will focus on the twin themes of mutual respect and social responsibility and impress on visitors the need for tolerance toward all religions and nationalities.

Yael Lerer, an Israeli activist who opposes the project, said it was a "very strange joke" to build a museum of tolerance on top of a cemetery.



  1. This is real and is being sponsored by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to promote tolerance among Jews of different backgrounds: Ashkenazim, Mizrahim, Ethiopian, Russian, etc…and not between Jews and Arabs. That would be the Museum on the Seam about 1 mile away.

    Putting tolerance in a museum, not unlike dinosaur fossils and ancient works of art seems rather odd to me. One would pray that in a city so important to three world faiths tolerance could become a living breathing thing and not some old relic relegated to a museum.

  2. Very true, Ueber-G. But you can’t show visiting heads of state round a general ethos, whilst you can show them round a museum. And you can have your photographs taken for the world press without getting rained on or sunburnt.

  3. There was a letter written into the paper this week, not sure it will be published, from a Jewish person, talking about this exact sort of issue and saying how wrong the Israeli authorities are to do this sort of thing. The writer says at the end of the letter, I’m paraphrasing here: “Jewish people have been subjected historically to extreme suffering. Therefore, what we should be doing is extending a helping hand to all others who suffer.”

    That seems fair to me.

  4. What do we do with the fact made in the news article that the museum is only being built on a former parking lot?

    Where was the complaint when the parking lot was built in the 60s, when this portion of Jerusalem was in Jordanian/Palestinian control?

  5. I think we don’t believe the council spin, Dah-Veed. Something’s got these ordinary people upset and it ain’t the loss of a parking lot.

  6. Boy, they really should reconsider this…I’ve seen all kinds of movies that show what happens when you build things in the States on top of old Indian burial grounds – it’s bad…

    Seriously though, just when I think it isn’t possible for the Israelis to be more offensive in their persecution of the Palestinians (and having people drown in sewage in Gaza is pretty bad) they manage to top themselves. Perhaps they’ll bring in a special dumpster and just put all the bits of grave markers and bone fragments and such into to and then haul it to a fragment of the land that is still under Palestinian “control.”

    wv: binesick

  7. Its a chain that goes back to 1432 when my ancestor was buried there

    {Awaits Zionist dismissal, “Only 1432? We can’t be arsed by such RECENT developments…”}

  8. The tragedy here is that the day of reckoning for the Israelis is coming, and it isn’t that far off. At the rate that Israeli Arabs are reproducing, the Arab Muslims and Christians will fairly soon outnumber the Jews in Israel itself. At that point, the Jews will either have to run an apartheid nation to keep the Arabs in check and under control, or they will have to expel all the non-Jews to prevent Israel from being voted out of existence in free and open elections. Things like this make negotiations that much more difficult. How it affects all of us is that Israel has the bomb, quite a few of them in fact, and if they go down, I’d suspect a lot of other places are going down as well. Of course, after that, trips to the Holy Land will be spread out a bit more….

  9. David, apparently that part of Jerusalem was under Israeli control in the 1960s so the parking lot was built by the Israeli authorities not the Jordanian authorities.