The Anti-Defamation League has come out against the building of a huge Islamic center and Mosque near Ground Zero.

Here is the key passage from the ADL statement:

Proponents of the Islamic Center may have every right to build at this site, and may even have chosen the site to send a positive message about Islam. The bigotry some have expressed in attacking them is unfair, and wrong. But ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgment, building an Islamic Center in the shadow of the World Trade Center will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right.

Predictably, the surprising announcement has set off a fury of “first they came for” statements from the left-wing bloggers who usually act in sympathy with the ADL – except when it comes to Israel. The schism between pro-Israel Jews and Israel-meh Jews has been exposed in full force.

People who probably threw hissy fits as kids about having to go to Hebrew School instead of being able to watch TV after public school now remember the lessons learned in religious class as if they were Talmudic scholars.

I think the ADL is dancing around the issue. I don’t believe the ADL is motivated primarily by sensitivities to the feelings of victims.

Rather, the ADL, like many of us, does not want to deal with the reality that regardless of the motivations of the individuals who will visit the Mosque, al-Qaeda and Islamists will portray the Mosque complex as the final conquest of The World Trade Center.

The thought of Adam Ghadan, or Ayman al-Zawahiri, or Osama bin Laden issuing a video or audiotape crowing about the ultimate victory, is too much for most Americans of all religions to bear.

The people behind and supporting the Cordoba Mosque surely know that it is not about religious freedom. No one is preventing the building of Mosques in New York City.

At the end of the day, we as a free society must err in favor of allowing the building of religious institutions anywhere religion-neutral laws allow. But that does not change the truth of what is going on with the Cordoba Mosque.

They should have picked a different location. Because respect is not a one-way street.

Update 8/1/2010: Some — but not all — of the criticisms of this post are fair. I still reach the same conclusion, but I might say it a little differently. I think the ADL is struggling to balance religious liberty with the clear history of large Islamic centers in Europe and the U.S. being used for radical purposes, both by the people funding the operations and by radical Islamist elements abroad. The centers never start out with radicalism as a stated goal, but seem to turn in that direction with frightening frequency. To have such a center so close to Ground Zero raises such concerns even more so because there is no doubt that al-Qaeda and other radicals will try to use the location to their advantage. Given the highly charged nature of Ground Zero, the organizers should have picked a different location for such a large and high profile complex.

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