'This Week' Transcript: Karzai, Khan and Levitt

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Rabbi Levitt, what -- were there missteps in the beginning in terms of, let's say, some people have suggested there should have been a town hall meeting style, more outreach, more sophisticated public relations? Not talking just to the people who agreed with you but the people who might have the kind of issues that are being shown right now. Should there have been a different way of approaching this?

LEVITT: You know, we can always in hindsight look at these things and think, oh gee, we should have done that. Clearly when the JCC thinks about what we should have done differently -- in fact Daisy, when she came to us, said, what would you have done differently? We unpacked some of that for her. I said to her, there should have been more stroller space. It was actually on that level that we were talking.

KHAN: And we were talking about shoes, because our concern is shoes and her concern is strollers.


AMANPOUR: (inaudible) to people, should there have been a more organized debate in the community, in the wider area to talk about whether this was -- how this was going to be seen?

LEVITT: I think what's important is it's not too late to do that. We've invited -- the JCC has invited Daisy and the imam to come speak at the JCC in September, and I hope that we'll be able to do that. They've certainly accepted our offer, and I hope that JCCs and other community centers in the Christian and Jewish community and in the secular world will come to do that, because clearly what this whole controversy has unleashed is a tremendous amount of misinformation, lack of knowledge about Islam that we need to address.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me take a few of those sort of in order. There has been a lot of heated rhetoric, as we've been saying. I want to play you something that the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said about the plans to build this center near ground zero.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Nazis don't have the right to put up a site next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor. There is no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you directly, because he did bring up Nazi imagery there. What do you make of that?

LEVITT: Well, that's terrible imagery. But I think Mr. Gingrich has never been to the JCC and he's never seen, you know, moms taking their babies to our swimming pool, he's never seen teenagers making sandwiches for homeless shelters. He's never seen husbands coming to grieve for their spouses in a bereavement group. That's what goes on in JCCs.

AMANPOUR: And that's what you plan for the Islamic center?

KHAN: Exactly. And he also has never been to Tribeca, to our mosque which has been there for 27 years, only 12 blocks from ground zero. We've been neighbors, and we've been good neighbors. And as neighbors, we feel we want to rebuild our city and our neighborhood.

AMANPOUR: Do you have the plans for it? Do you have the architect? Do you have the funding? Is it something that could happen anytime or is it still a long time off?

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...