Auschwitz cross erected near
the concentration camp
Photo by: Wiki
In September of 1984, almost 4 decades after the Holocaust, the Catholic Archdiocese of Krakow in Poland wanted to construct a Carmelite nuns' convent in the building of the so-called Old Theater adjacent to the walls of the concentration camp we call Auschwitz.
They had the best of intentions: to pray for the murdered and show the good will of the Christians and their solidarity with the sufferings of the Jewish nation.
The location was on Polish territory, in a Polish Catholic nation, and the Catholic Church had every right to locate the convent there.
So far so good.
A year later, outside of Poland, Jewish organizations in Europe, Israel and America raised the objection that placing a Christian facility so close would "de-Judaize" the place and thus deprive Jews of a symbol important to them. The convent was interpreted as a provocation to Jewish feelings regarding Auschwitz, despite promises from Church officials to respect the integrity of the area of extermination and not to change anything within it.
It should be acknowledged that many Polish Jews at the time expressed the opinion that they saw no reasons why the nuns should not pray in Auschwitz. What's the big deal?
However, this was not a matter of Jews who felt no disrespect. Indeed there are people who do not mind dogs running wild and pooping all over the place, so what? We should still pass laws for people who do care what they step in.
Likewise, there were too many offended Jews. It was obvious that the convent, rather than being a place to foster tolerance and good will, was in fact stirring up old stereotypes and prejudices. Consequently, after years of bitter disputes and public pressure, Pope John Paul II, although originally in support of the convent in Auschwitz, later (1989) decided that the convent should be moved to a distance of 1500 feet away.
Now this was all about something that happened almost 40 years after an event. This was about Polish Catholics who also had relatives who died at Auschwitz, on their own Polish soil, with good intentions occupying an area of Jewish Ground Zero. This was about symbols.
The right thing for Muslims to do now, less than a decade after 9/11, on property they own, close to our symbol of destruction by their fellow Muslims, is to move the Muslim Cultural Center 1500 feet away. No one stopped you from building more than 90 mosques in New York City in the last few decades, so stop with the race-baiting and calls of Islamophobia.
It is obvious that this proposed center is not helping to foster tolerance and good will. Do the right and decent thing even if it is against Muslim culture to do so. Move it.
There are idiots like Jeffrey Feldman writing lies in the Huffington Post that the convent was never moved, that it exists merely 550 meters from the camp.
19 Aug 2010,
Lie About Auschwitz Fuels Park51 Hysteria
Not only is there a Catholic center for prayer and understanding within several blocks of the former Nazi gas chambers and torture cells at Auschwitz -- not only was it put there with the blessing of Catholic leadership after the Carmelite controversy -- but, and this is key: it is a wonderful place that achieves peaceful outcomes commensurate with those the planners of Park51 have proposed to bring to Manhattan.
The center is actually 5 to 6 blocks away (not two) from the camp perimeter. And it was moved. Liberal idiots and their lies.
Source material on the convent controversy was taken from CONTROVERSY AROUND THE AUSCHWITZ CONVENT (PDF) by Waldemar Chrostowski a Roman catholic priest and a professor of theology at the Academy of Catholic Theology, Warsaw, Poland. He has written on Jewish-Christian relations in Poland. The Polish version of the text was published in the Weekly Solidarnosc, Warsaw, September 29, l989.