I’m not going to slander a 9/11 victim’s family

August 18, 2010 by Peter · 13 Comments 

I’m not about to tell the family member of a September 11th victim that their opposition to a mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero is due to xenophobia, racism, or narrow-mindedness.  Attributing those motives to every person who opposes the mosque is something I refuse to do.

All I can do is make my case:

I’m an American citizen with a Jewish-American mother and Christian-Lebanese father. I was raised in Beirut during the height of the Lebanese civil war, where Christians and Muslims slaughtered each other by the tens of thousands. I lived and breathed the same kind of horrors we see in Afghanistan and Iraq, endless carnage, indiscriminate killing of civilians, shelling of entire neighborhoods, kidnappings and car bombs. I ducked and dodged the grim reaper on too many occasions.

As a teen, I was conscripted into the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia, and served for three years. My opponents were Muslims of all nationalities, Syrians, Palestinians, everyone who was attacking the Christian enclave north of Beirut and endangering my family, my friends, my life. It was a matter of survival. Muslim friends who I grew up with became mortal enemies. A country that was the model of interfaith co-existence was torn apart at the seams.

I moved to New York in the 80s and have lived here ever since. My daughter was born in New York. For years, my home has been the beautiful riverfront neighborhood of Battery Park, a two minute walk across from Ground Zero. On the day the towers came down, my wife and I were headed to WTC Building 7 for a meeting. We were delayed by a phone call and then switched on the tv and realized we weren’t going anywhere and that the world we knew had changed forever. I lost friends in the towers and I watched my city get amputated. Every time I walk near the site, I look up in pain at the hole in the sky. New York will never be the same to me. I will never forget.

When I heard about the plans for a mosque, my first thought was Lebanon and the beautiful days of coexistence before the war. Tolerance and compassion are things have we to work at. Living our values and principles is not an easy thing. My love of our Constitution and the freedoms enshrined in it come from my time away from the USA. I want to be true to its ideals, to practice what the Constitution preaches. I believe supporting the mosque accomplishes that goal.

And what’s more, placing a mosque next to Ground Zero strikes me as a direct affront to the vicious murderers who took those precious lives. Few things are more satisfying than letting a violent perpetrator know that their violence has had no effect and that it has only strengthened our resolve and stiffened our spine. I want the terrorists to know that nothing they do will make us relinquish our values, that we honor the lives lost by sending a message that anyone can worship anywhere in America. We are not defending people, we are defending principles.

I see that as victory and I hope those who oppose this mosque see it that way too.

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About Peter


13 Responses to “I’m not going to slander a 9/11 victim’s family”
  1. Ruth says:

    That’s why Newt Gingrich’s statements about the lack of churches in Saudi Arabia rubs me the wrong way. If we start acting like that, then…well maybe the terrorists don’t win, but we become a less great nation because of them. We become a nation that bases policy and action on other people’s limitations rather than our own vision. And that’s depressing

  2. Lori says:

    Peter. . . I agree with you 100%. I have not had your experiences but I stand in solidarity with none the less. I wanted to stand up and applaud today when I say Nancy Pelosi ask “Who is finding the opposition” . . .who chose to frame this story, this coverage this way. . . Why do I bother asking . . its clear, “they” are laying the ground work for the next presidential elections. . . thanks for speaking up

    Lori “@littlebyrdee”

  3. LOrion says:

    Thanks Peter. Sent tweet to Howard Dean and DFA to sit down and read this. Quit trying to be everything to everyone… stand up for what is right, if you know what it is.

  4. sherifffruitfly says:

    It’s not a mosque.

  5. AMEN, Peter, I agree with you.
    The Hedious Noise coming out of the RightWingers re the Mosque and some of the Dems who also appose the Mosque being built near ground zero… are definitely for the sake of TRYING to Regain Power in the Fall and the WhiteHouse in 2012.
    They have created an enormous Pile of BullCrap…in the last two years…
    They are beyond Greed for Power…
    They are the personification of Negativity..
    And it is and will Engulf them…because Positivity
    is stronger than Negativity in the Long Run!

    The Minute Pres Barack Obama takes a Stance on the Mosque either way other than Freedom of Religion being
    The Foundation that the United States Stands on…
    They will say…See! See! Told ya…he’s a Muslim.

    We are in a state of Political Maddness…which started back in the Reagan Years…
    evidenced by the struggling GOPRW grasping at Emotional Straws and Lies in an effort to generate
    a HATEFUL ENVIRONMENT towards anyone that does not SIDE WITH THEM….

    I believe it is coming to it’s end…Soon And Very Soon.

  6. DaleC says:

    First, what a biography! I have been following you and all your wise comments on Twitter, and had no idea!

    Second, you are undoubtedly right to stand with Obama on this one and support the building of the mosque near the site of the WTC disaster.

    However, third, you stretch logic to the breaking point when you conclude the mosque is “an affront to the vicious murderers” who attacked the WTC. We may choose to see it that way (and perhaps we should), but logic remains on the side of those who see it as an affront to the dead. They tore down a symbol of western values (free enterprise, commerce, capitalism) and would erect in its place a symbol of medieval intolerance and murderous aggression.

    We in this country never hear the voices of rational and righteous Muslims (see, for instance, http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2010/08/arab_reactions_cordoba_mosque&fsrc=nwl), and therefore the myth that there are none is widespread throughout the land.

    To my mind, Dean’s slipping and sliding toward an argument finally opposed to the siting of the mosque comes closet to the position we should probably be taking, and which you seemed to want to take in your first paragraph.

    But it’s a toughie, and cynics will exploit the hell out of it come November, making as much political hay on our continuing national grief as they can.

  7. Milda Carranza says:

    I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me how to write a article tremendously. Thank you for all of your time and work.

  8. Thank you, I am Jewish, and I have had mixed emotions about ground zero, yet realize that politics often blinds moral judgment. Many years ago, I was angered when Catholic Carmelite Nuns wanted to build near the entrance of Auschwitz, and I was adamantly against it. I remember as a kid, reading about Lebanon, as the Emerald of the Mid-East, in National Geographic… and it pains me to think what has happened to that Great Country.I believe that you have the right idea. I hope that our so called leaders, do not use the Mosque as a pawn for votes. Again, thanks for your insight, and lets hope for the best in finding a just solution.


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