ADL declares Anti-abortionists' replica of the Wailing Wall an affront to Judaism and the Holocaust
On July 18, 2012 At 9:35 pm
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The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) declared that the Kansas Evangelical pastors' replica of the "Wailing Wall" to symbolize "babies" killed by abortion "an outrageous affront to the Jewish people and a perversion of Judaism's holiest site."
The International Pro-Life Memorial and National Life Center plan to build and use this "shrine", in Wichita, Kansas, as symbolism for millions of aborted fetuses. They plan to build the model as an exact full-size replica of the Western Wall to memorialize some 60 million aborted fetuses. In front of it, they will place 60 white crosses to represent 1 million aborted fetuses, according to the center's website. The Pro-Life group states that their goal is to promote healing and enhancing human life.
Jewish Daily Forward reports that the ADL called the proposed center and a perversion of Judaism's holiest site.
The Forward also asked, "Who's wall?" and also called it "The Wrong Symbol". The Forward not only declares the Evangelical Christians' analogy about the "Wailing Wall" and the Holocaust breaks down quickly, but also state, "If Jews rightly are furious when some Palestinians have denied this narrative, we should be similarly furious when Christians in Kansas pervert it, too. And we should say: Find your own symbols. Stay away from ours."
The anti-abortionists use Hitler's view of seeing Jews as non-humans, even stating that "Hitler was Pro-choice", and attempt to apply it to abortion. The ADL view the replica and the anti-abortionists' reason behind it as reinterpreting Jewish symbols for their own purpose and bastardizing them.
"I have never seen it as a place that you go to remember the Holocaust," said Dale Marcus, a retired psychologist and a member of Ahavath-Achim Hebrew Congregation, a nondenominational traditional synagogue in Wichita. "It has nothing to do with abortion."
"People are talking about it in a very dismissive, funny way," said Rabbi Michael Davis of Congregation Emanu-El, a Reform synagogue. Davis, one of the few Jews aware of the project, said, "I see it as another example of a non-Jewish group taking a Jewish symbol and reinterpreting it for their own private use and thereby bastardizing it."
"We have always said it is unacceptable, it is insensitive, it belittles, and distorts," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "Holocaust trivialization is rampant."
However, the Jewish community in Wichita has remained mostly silent on the subject of abortion, in part because they are afraid and Tiller's murder made the fear worse, especially since the Jewish community is approximately 1000 people.
Davis, the Reform rabbi, said that the Jewish community was loath to draw attention to itself on an issue known to drive some Wichita activists to harass opponents or– in the case of Tiller's murderer, Scott Roeder — kill them. Several years ago, Davis conducted pastoral work at Tiller's clinic for Jewish families seeking late-term abortions. But though Davis was open about his views on abortion, he never asked his congregation to follow suit.
"I think that some people are concerned about the Jewish community publicly taking a controversial political stand, especially in a place like Wichita, Kansas, where if you do such a thing you get targeted," he said.
Cynthia Stein, the president at Ahavath-Achim, echoed this view.
"Someone walked into a church on a Sunday morning and shot George Tiller," she said. "So am I afraid? A little bit. When you are a community of under 1,000 people in a very conservative community of 350,000 people, are you a little concerned sometimes? Yes."
The Jews in Wichita are familiar with Mark Holick, the spokesman for the pro-life memorial. In 2008, he made a marquee outside his church declaring Obama a Muslim and calling it a sin. In 2010, he was arrested for loitering in front of the Islamic Society and in after Tiller was shot and killed, he put on his church marquee, "GEORGE TILLER– HE DIED THE SAME WAY HE LIVED."
"This is par for the course for him," Davis said of Holick's planned pro-life memorial.
The ADL posted a press release on July 16, 2012 concerning the replica with the following statement by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director:
Over the years we have seen a number of anti-abortion groups compare abortion to the Holocaust, but this takes the misuse of Jewish symbolism and history to another level. The Western Wall, this monumental symbol of Jewish grief and redemption, is being co-opted and distorted to promote an anti-abortion agenda and message.
Members of the pro-life movement are entitled to their opinions, but we wish they would not express them at the expense of Judaism's holiest site and the Holocaust. The use of the Wailing Wall imagery in protest of abortion constitutes an affront to the Jewish people and a terrible perversion of the meaning of Judaism's holiest site.
We strongly urge the planners of the International Pro-Life Memorial & National Life Center to reconsider their inclusion of a "Wailing Wall" in their project and to stop using the word "Holocaust" in reference to abortion.
According to the Israeli National News, Holick is currently raising funds for the project and plans to seek a tax-exemption for the facility’s operation.