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CONTACT : James L affert y, 323 .6 53 . 4 51 0 Jen N essel , 212 . 6 14 . 6449 , jn es sel @ ccljustice.org Da v id L erner , Riptide Communications, 212 . 2 60.5000

*** MEDIA ADVI S ORY ***

De s cendan ts to F i l e P r ote s t w ith U n i t ed Na t ions o v e r I s ra e li Plan s t o B uild o n 12th C e ntur y Mu s l i m Ceme t e r y

Simon W i es e nthal Center Intends "Museum of T o l e ran ce " fo r Site Despite De se cration

Press Confere n c es in Lo s Angeles, Jerusal e m and Geneva

Feb ruary 8,2 010 , L o s A ngel es, New York , J er u s alem , Geneva - This Wednesda y , Feb r uar y

i n vo l ve d w ith defendi ng a 1 2 t h C entury M uslim cemeter y from de s ecration by I sraeli authorit ies and

d evel o p ers w i ll bring the i r case to the U nited N ation s and hold p r e ss confere n c e s i n Los Ang e les ,

G enev a an d Jerusa l em . T he f i ling will take place i n Ge ne v a ; the cemetery , M aman A llah, i s i n

Jerusalem; and the Simon Wiese nthal Center , whic h has plan s t o b ui l d a M u seum of T olerance on t he

site, is based i n Lo s A ng el es. The C ent e r for C onst i t u tion a l Rig h ts in N ew Y or k is rep r ese nting descen d an ts , in c luding 6 0 signatories f r o m 15 of the oldest Jerusal em familie s with a nce s tors going

b ack to t he 12th century .

10 , p a t t ie s .

. T his w ill b e t h e first known t ime Palest i nian indiv iduals ha v e taken coll ective ac t ion against I srael to brin g s uch an i ssue before a UN forum and come s aft e r all remed i es in I srael were exhausted . T he famili es , NG O ' s and attorne y s a rgue thedesecra t ion of the cemeter y v io l ates international con ve n t ions

pr o t e cting cultural heritage , the m a nifestation of religious beliefs , and t he right to family. Th e pl a n t o

bu ild a M useum of T o l erance o v er the remains of i m port a nt M uslim figures a n d men , w omen and

c hi l dren buried there ove r t h e course o f mor e t h a n e ig ht hundred years has fa c ed widespread

op pos ition from M us l im , C h risti a n an d Je w i s h per so nalit i es in I srael , P ales tin e and arou n d the world.

F rank Gehr y , the original architect for the museum, has w ithdrawn his desig n s and h i s participation in

t h e pr o je c t .

LOS ANGELES P R E SS CO NFERENCE DETAILS :

WHEN : 10 : 30 AM. , W ednesday , Februar y 10 , 2010

I

W HE RE : S imon Wi ese n thal Muse u m o f To lerance , 978 6 W est Pico Blv d ., L os Angeles , CA 900 3 5

WHO: A tt o r n e y _ l ar ia L aHoo d , J e w Yor k -based Center fo r C onstitutional Right s; attomey

Le o nard Weinglass N e w Yor k - base d ci v il r ights att o rn ey ; Lo s Angeles R ab b i Le o nard B eer man; *

Los Angeles R ab b i Steve n Jacob s ; Stanle y Sh einbaum , long-time L . A . Jewish civi c l e ao er an d - former P r esi de nt of t h e L . A . Police C o mmiss ion ; H ussam Ayl oush, Executive Directo r , Southe m

C alifomi a C . A . I . R

based Rev . George Rega s fo und er a nd P r esi dent of the Reg a s I nstitute; and J ames L a ff e rty,

E xecuti ve D irec t or of t h e ational La w y ers G uild in Los Ang ele s and the host of this pre s s c onfer en c e .

; Shakee l Sy e d , Exe cuti v e Director , So uthem Califomia Shura Council ; Pasad ena -

(The f o ll o wing per sons, and others , wil l be ap pear ing at e i ther th e press co n fe r e nce i n Ge ne v a or J er u s a le m : P ro fes s or G e orges A bi Saab Hon ora ry Pr o fessor of International L aw at the Gradua te I nstitute ofIntern ationa l an d De v el opm ent St udies , Gen e v a , Switzerland .

M r . Pa t rice M u gn y , A dmin i s trati e Cou nselo r , Department of Culture, City of Gene v a , Switzerla nd

Ms . Rania Madi, Ge ne v a Coord i nator BADIL Resource Center, Rama l lah , Palestine .

M s . Yael L ern er, Publ ishe r , Al - An d al u s Pu bl is h ing H o u s e , T el- Av i v , Israel . )

For m o re in forma t ion on l ocat i ons an d t i m es , con t act Davi d L er n er a t Riptide C o mmuni c ati o ns ,

2 1 2. 2- 60.5000.

T h e Center for Const i tu t i o na l R i gh t s is dedica t e d to - a d va ncing and protecting the rights guarantee d by th e U nited S tates C onst i tut i on and the U ni v ersal De c laration of Human Rights . Founded in 1966 b y at tomey s w ho represented ci v il rights movements i n the South , CCR is a non - profit legal and educational organi z ation committed to the creati ve use of law as a positi v e force for social change . V isit www .c { ~ r justii.X~.Org.

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CONTACT:

James Lafferty , 323 . 653 . 4510 Jen Nessel , 212.614 . 6449, jnessel@ ccrjustice.org David Lerner, Riptide Communications, 212 . 260.5000

Descendants File Protest with United Nations over Israeli Plans to Build on 12th Century Muslim Cemetery

Simon Wiesentltal Center Intends "Museum of Tolerance" for Site Despite Desecration

February 10, 2010 , Los Angeles , New York , Jerusalem , Geneva - Toda y , parties defending a 1ih Century Muslim cemetery and holy site from desecration by Israeli authorities and a U.S. developer brought their case to the United Nations and held press conferences in Geneva , Jerusalem and Los Angeles. The filing of the " Petition for Urgent Action on Human Rights Violations by Israel:

Desecration of Ma'man Allab (Mamilla) Muslim Cemeter y in the Holy Cit y of Jerusalem," took place in Geneva; the cemetery, Maman Allah (also known as Mamilla) , is in Jerusalem; and the Simon Wiesenthal Center , which has p l ans to build a Museum of Tolerance on the site , is based in Los Angeles. The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York is representing descendants , including 60 signatories from 15 of the oldest Jerusalem families with ancestors going back to the 12th century. The Petition may be consulted at www.mamillacampaign . org.

Said Stanley Sheinbaum, Jewish leader in Los Angeles and fo r mer President of the Los Angeles Police Commission , "In regard to the proposed construction of a new Simon Wiesenthal Center on the ; ancient Mami l la Cemetery, I would with great respect for both Pa l estinians and Israelis suggest that Israeli governmental authorities seek out an alternative building site upon which to build the Museum of Tolerance. It seems to me that to desecrate hundreds of human remains on this sacred burial site in order to build a center dedicated to tolerance is particularly ironic . "

" The callous disregard for the most basic values of tolerance involved in building this museum in the

most ancient and revered Muslim cemeter y in Jerusalem is not just an affront b y the Simon Wiesenthal Center to the man y Jerusalemites whose families , like m y o w n , ha v e had ancestors buried there for many centuries," said Rashid Khal i di , Edward Said Professor of Arab Studie s Department of History at Columbia University in New York . "It is also a blatant violation of the ethical, moral and legal . responsibilities of the Israeli government , which itself repeatedl y protested the desecration of ancient

Jewish cemeteries in Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967 ."

The construction project has resulted in the disinterment and disposal of hundreds of graves and human remains , the whereabouts of which are currently unknown . Frank Gehry , the original architect for the museum , has withdrawn his designs and his participation in the project .

This will be the first known time Palestinian individuals have taken collective action against Israel to bring such an issue before a UN forum and comes after all remedies in Israel were exhausted. The families , NGO's and attorneys argue the desecration of the cemetery violates international conventions protecting cultural heritage , the manifestation of religious beliefs , and the right to family.

Said Maria LaHood , Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney, " Left with no recourse in Israel, families of people buried in Mamilla cemetery have come together to petition the United Nations to safeguard their international human rights to be free from discrimination, to manifest religious beliefs, and to have their cultural heritage protected. We call on the international community to denounce this shameful desecration of a historic Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem."

The plan to build a "Center for Human Dignity - Museum of Tolerance" on the remains of important Muslim figures and men, women and children buried there over the course of a thousand years has faced widespread opposition from Muslim , Christian and Jewish personalities in Israel, Palestine and around the world. Nonetheless, the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled in favor of construction of the Museum, and the Israeli government has refused to halt the disinterment of human remains and the destruction of the ancient cemetery .

The Center for Constitutional Rights and others are petitioning the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Religion and Belief and on Contemporary Forms of Racism ; the Independent Expert on Culture; the High Commissioner for Human Rights ; and the Director General of UNESCO on behalf of Palestinian families whose ancestors are buried in the cemetery . The parties are asking these international bodies to act urgently to demand that the government of Israel halt further construction . of . the "Center for Human Dignity - Museum of Tolerance " on the Mamilla Cemetery site, investigate human rights violations, document and reveal to petitioners the whereabouts of all human remains and artifacts, recover and rebury all human remains where they were originally found in coordination with the proper Muslim authorities, and declare the Mamilla Cemetery an antiquity to be preserved and protected .

The Mamilla Cemetery has been a Muslim burial ground and holy site since as early as the 7th century, when companions of the Prophet Muhammad were reputedly buried there. In addition, numerous Sufi ' saints and thousands of other officials, scholars , notables , and Jerusalemite families have been buried in the cemetery over the last 1000 years. The Muslim' Supreme Council declared the cemetery an historical site in 1927 , and the British Mandate authorities pronounced it an antiquities site in 1944. It was an active burial ground until 1948 , when the new State ofIsrael seized the western part of Jerusalem and the cemetery fell under Israeli control.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed b y the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights . Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South , CCR is a non - profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change . Visit www.ccrjustice.org .

###

Erasing the Past

The Dest r uction of an Ancient Musl i m Cemete r y in Jerusalem

International

Human

Rights

What is the Mamilla Cemetery?

Th e Mam i ll a C e m eter y i s an anc i e n t Mus lim bu ri a l

g r ound a nd h o l y s i t e be li e v e d to da te b ac k t o t he 7t h cen t u r y, w hen comp anio n s o f t he P r o phe t M u hamm ad

w ere rep u tedly burie d t he re. N ume r o u s sa i n t s of the S u fi

fa i t h and t h ousands of o th e r o ffi c i a l s, sc h o lars, notables

a n d

tery o ve r t h e l ast 1 000 yea r s . T h e Mus l im Sup re me

Co un c i l dec l ared t h e ceme t er y an

an d the Brit i sh Manda t e

t iq u i t ie s s i te i n 19 4 4 .

It was a n ac t i v e b u rial gro u nd un t i l

i t a n an -

J e r usa l emi t e f ami li e s have been buried i n t h e ceme -

hi s t o ric a l s i t e in 192 7 ,

au t h o ri t ie s pr onoun ce d

19 4 8.

Th e an c i e nt bur i al ground with th e mu seu m s it e in th e far Ph o t o C r e dit : Mich a el R atn e r

background.

Af t er t he new S t ate o f I s r ae l s eize d t he wes t e r n pa r t of

Jeru sa l em in 1948 , the c eme t er y fel l un d e r I srae l i con t r o l ,

a n d li k e o t her Is l a mic e ndowm e n t

M am i l l a C eme t er y was tak e n ov er b y t he C us t o d i an f o r

Ab s ente e Pr o pe r t y. S i nc e t he n , Mus l im au t h or itie s ha v e

no t b e e n a ll ow e d

pr o per t ie s , o r w aqf , t he

t o main t a in t h e c emete r y .

What is the IICenter for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance"?

T h e Is r aeli go v er nm e n t and t h e Simon Wies e nt h al C e n t e r

( SWC) a r e cur ren t l y bu il di n g th e " C e nte r f o r Hu ma n Di g - ni ty - M u seu m o f T ol er ance " on a p o r t i o n o f the M ami lla

C emet er y . Th i s c o n s t r uc ti on p r o j ect h as r e s u l t ed

dis in t er m e n t of h u n d re ds of g r av e s , and t he w he r e a b ou t s o f t he c o u n t le s s h u ma n remai ns t ha t ha v e been d i spo s e d o f are u nknown. Is r ael a n d t he S W C pl an t o con t inue t he

ere c t i o n of t h e m useum a t op t ho us a nds of mor e g r aves.

in t he

T he Cent er for Cons t i t utional Righ t s ( C CR) and o t h e r

groups h a v e file d a p e t i t i on on b e ha lf of t he

P a le s t ini an d e sc e nda n t s of t h o s e b u ri ed in t he c eme t er y .

T

he p e t i t io n , w hi c h was f i l ed

w i th s e v e r al int e r n a t i ona l

b

odies , u rge s I s r ae l t o: h a l t cons t ruc t i o n of t he m use u m ;

i n v e s t i ga t e h u m an ri g h ts v i o l at i o n s ; rebur y h um a n r e m a i ns ;

and d ecla r e t he Ma m i l l a

t ie s si t e .

Why is the Mamilla Cemetery Important?

Ceme t er y a pro t ecte d an t i qu i -

The impor t ance o f t he M a mi l la c eme t er y t o M us l im s is

w el l -k n own t o I s r a el . I n 1 948 , the y e a r cont r o l o f the

c eme t er y was t a ke n ov er b y I s rae l , t he I s r a e li Re ligious

Af f airs M i nis tr y re c o g ni z ed

mos t p r o mine n t Mus li m c e m e t e r ie s , w he r e s e v ent y thou - . sand Muslim w a rri o r s of [ Salad i n ' s ] a r m i e s a r e i n t err e d

a l o ng w ith man y Mu s li m s ch o lars . Isra e l w ill al w a y s kno w

t o pro t e c t an d r e spec t t hi s s i t e. " l , As rec e n t l y as 1986 , in

r e s p ons e to an in v es t igation b y t h e Uni t e d

c a t ion , Sci en t i fic an d Cultu r a l Organiza t i on ( U N E SCO)

rega rdi ng I s r a el ' s developmen t

I sra el i go v e rn me n t s t a t e d t h at " n o pr o j e c t e x i s t s for t he

decons ecr a t i on

s i te an d its t omb s a re t o

De s p i t e t he s e

re assu ra n ces an d t he c em et er y ' s inc l u sio n i n a Is r a e li

A n t i qu i t ies A u thori t y l i st o f " S pe c ial An t iq u i t ies S i t es , " I s r a el

in fac t d estroyed a l a r g e s e c t i o n of the c e me t e r y du ri ng

the pe r i od in w hi ch t h e s t a t eme nt

Mam illa

" to b e o ne o f t he

Na t i on s E d u -

p rojec t s on Mam ill a , t h e

o f t he s i t e an d that on t he co n tr ar y t h e

b

e sa fe g uar d e d. " 2

was made.

The Destruction of the Cemetery

Des p i t e of fi c iall y r e cog niz i n g

i t s imp o r t an c e , I s r a el h as

s t e adi l y

ere c t i on o f b ui l d i ngs , pa r k s and e v en p a r k i ng l ots . The

c o ns t r u c t ion o f t he " Cen t er for Huma n Digni ty - M u s e u m

of Tole r anc e " is on l y t h e la t e s t su ch d e v el o p ment

I

opm e n t b y

fie d , bas e d on a 1 96 4 pr oclam a tion

e nc r oac h e d on t he Mam il la C e m e t e r y w i th t h e

pro j ec t .

s rael an d t h e SWC h a v e at t e m pted to jus t i f y t his d e v e l -

cl aiming t h at t h e c e m e t er y is no l onge r sanc t i-

by a Shari' a or

I s l amic la w j udg e w h o l ac k ed le g iti m a c y in t he Musl im

co mm u ni t y. T he Presi den t o f t he Shc ri ' c C ou r t o f A p p e a l s

i

n I s r a e l has since d eeme d t hi s ru l in g t o be v oi d , a nd af -

f

i r me d t ha t t he s a nc t i t y o f c eme te rie s is ete r na l i n I s l am.

666 B r oad way, 7t h Fl oo r , New Yo r k , NY 1 001 2

2

1 2 - 6 14 ·6 46 4

ww w. c cr ju s t i c e. o r g

A l l de v elopmen t s on t he g r o u n ds o f t he M am il la C e me -

t e r y h av e re su l t e d i n its d e s e c ra t i o n a nd t he u n di gnif i e d di sint ermen t o f gra v e s , h uma n r e m ai ns a n d o t her i mp o r -

t an t ar tifac t s. Pa le s ti ni an s ha v e con s i s t en t l y oppo s e d t h e

d e s t r uc t i on a n d d esec r a t i on o f the c em e t er y , t h r ough le -

ga l pe t i t i ons t o I s r a e l i b o di es and ot her

succe s s . Ac c ording t o G i d e o n Suleim a ni , C hief I sraeli

Archae o l o gis t assigne d b y t h e I srae li Antiquit i es Authority

t o le ad the e x c av a t i on o f t he mu se um s i t e , ov e r 400

g r a v e s co n t ai ni ng h uma n re m ai ns w ere e x h u m e d o r e x - pose d d u r i ng h i s pa r t i a l e xc a v a t i o n o f t he s i t e. Suleim a n i

e s t im a t e d t ha t t he r e a re f o ur lay er s o f g r av e s , ma ny d a t -

i ng f r om th e 12thce ntury , wit h a t l e a st 2000 g r a v e s r e -

ma i n i n g u nd e r t h e Mu s e u m si t e . S e v e r a l h un d re d m o r e hu ma n rem ai ns w ere d i s in t e r r e d du r i ng o ther ph ase s o f

p r e pa r a t i on

ac t i ons , w i t h ou t

o f t he s i t e.

Can International Laws Protect Mamilla Cemetery?

Israe l is v i o l a t i n g n um e rous i n t e rna t i o n al h u m an r i gh ts

la ws

man D i gn i ty- M use u m o f T ol e r a n ce " o n M amil l a C eme -

t

b y p e r mittin g t he construct io n of t he " C en t e r f o r H u -

e r y .

The mus e um ' s constr uc t i o n co nsti t u t e s v i o lations of t h e human r ight s o f a ll Pa l e s tin i ans a n d Mu s li m s, w h ose f o r -

bears

th e in n u m era b l e

ance s t o r s

and histo r i cal ly i mpo r t a n t c emet er y a l so v i o l a t e s t he r i gh t s

of pe o pl e of m an y fa i t h s a nd

s i t e s lik e

comm un i t y ' s he rit age and s h o u l d be pro t e ct e d an d p r e -

s e r v e d . T he ri gh t t o p r o t e c t c ul t u r a l her i t ag e

er t y ; t o f reed o m fr o m d i s c rimin at i on ; t o fr ee do m o f relig -

ion and be l ief; and the r ight t o c u l ture a n d f a m il y

i n t erna t i ona ll y pro t e cted h u m a n right s .

a re bu rie d i n t h e c em eter y, and t he h u ma n ri g h t s o f

P a l e s tini a n s f r o m Je r us a le m w h os e d ir e c t

a re b u rie d t he r e. T h e d e se c ra ti on of t hi s an c ie n t

cul t u r e s who bel ie v e t h a t

Ma mil l a Cem e t e r y b elo n g to t he i nt ernati o na l

a nd p ro p -

a r e a l l

What Legal Remedies Are Available?

Is rae l h a s an o b l iga ti o n

t o r e s pec t an d p r o t ec t t he hol y

s i tes o f i t s mi no r i t y re l i gio us an d e th n i c p o pul a t i ons , in c l u d -

i ng M a mi ll a c eme te r y, u n d er in t erna t i on al

Nat i ons reso l ut i on s and under i t s o w n do m es t i c l a w.

la w , U n ite d

D

e s pi t e Israel ' s le ga l o b l iga t io ns , t he I s r a el i Suprem e

C

ou r t r u le d i n fa vo r o f co ns t r uc t ion o f t he mu seu m and the

go v er n m en t h a s re f u s e d t o h a lt t he d i sint e r men t of

and t he d e s t r u c t i on o f t h e a nc i en t c e me t e r y . F o r t h i s r ea -

to bring t h is issu e to t h e

in t ern a t i onal com m u n ity w i t h t h e a id of huma n r ig h t s o r -

g anizat i ons s uc h a s CC R. The pe t i t i o n ha s b ee n f ile d w i t h

t he UN . S pe cia l R ap p o r t eur s on F reedo m o f R e li g i o n

and Belief a n d o n C o n t emp o r a r y

so n , t he

b odi e s

p e t i t i on er s h av e d e c i d e d

F o rm s o f R a c i s m ; t he

I

ndepend en t Exper t o n Cu l tu r e; the H ig h Commi s s i oner

f

o r Human R i gh ts; and t he Di r e c t o r Genera l o f UNESCO.

The p e t i t i o ner s a re u r gin g t he s e b o d i es t o d em a n d t h a t

t

h e G ov e r n men t o f I s r ael : h a l t f ur t h e r co n s t ru c ti o n o f t h e

"

C e nt e r f o r Hu m an D i gn i t y- M us e um

o fT o ler a n c e "

on

t

h e Mam illa

Cem e t er y s i t e ; doc u m e n t an d

re v e a l to pe t i - .

t

ion er s t he wh e r e a b o u ts

o f a l l h uma n rema i ns a n d a r t i -

fa cts ; r e c o v er a n d r eb u r y a l l h um an rem a ins w he r e t he y

w

Mu s l im aut h o ri t ie s; a n d d e c l a re t he Ma m i l l a C eme t er y

an an t iqui t y to be pre s e r v e d and pro t ec t ed.

er e o ri g in al l y fo u n d i n coo r d i na ti on

w i t h the p r o per

Not e s

1

See A k i v o E l d o r, Isr a el Prize loureole opposes Museum

01 Tolerance,

HA'ARETZ, Dec . 3 1, 20 0 8 , a vailable

s p ag e s/ 1 0 5 1 0 4 7. html .

01 http://h aa re t z . cam /h asen /

2 U N E SCO 1 25 E X/ 1 5 , 1 7 July 1 9 8 6 , Addend u m 1 , at 7 .

Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs

Founder, Progressive Faith Foundation

8 1 8.9 1 7 . 9 69 1

rabbi steven bjacobs@gmail . com

Rabbi Emeritus , Temple Kol Tikvah

21234 Mulholland Dr .• Woodland Hills , California 91364

! - Iussam Ayloush, I - 1 . B.A

E xec u t i v e D i r ect or

hay l o u s h @c air.c om

Co un cil on American-Islamic

Relat i ons

G r eater L os Ange l es Area Chapter

2 1 80 W . Cr e scen t

A n a h e im ,

Tel 714 . 77 6.1 8 4 7 . F ax 7 1 4. 776 . 8340

Avenue, S u i t e F

C A 92 80 1

ca.cair.com

~ ~ - ---- -- -- - ---- - - - -- - --- - -- - - - -- -

ShakeelSyed

Executive Director

2115 W. Crescent Ave Suite 261 Anaheim, CA 92801

Tel: (714) 239-6 4 73 Fa x: (714) 239-6493

Email : shakeel@shuracouncil.org Website : w w w.shuracouncil.org

~~~~ ~~~ Islamic Shura Council