A bit more of the story:
As the center came under attack it was clearly the Church itself that was being assaulted. The LDS claim that this was a university building, an academic facility, rather than a mission home or a church, was almost universally brushed aside as a smoke screen. Still, many people in and out of Israel rose to the defense. Mayor Kollek did not back down from his support of the center, but defended its construction now as a matter of religious freedom, pluralism, and human rights. Furthermore, he solicited from David Galbraith a carefully-crafted statement promising on behalf of the Church that students and staff of the center would engage in neither overt nor covert proselyting. The statement was published in the Jerusalem Post. Leading newspapers throughout Israel pointed to the Mormons’ excellent record of abstaining from missionary activities during the more than fifteen years that they had been operating programs in Israel. The rabbi of Salt Lake City wrote a letter in support of the center. New York’s Jewish Anti-Defamation League endorsed the center’s continued construction, as did the Arizona Regional Board of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York. Former American president Gerald Ford sent a personal letter of support to Prime Minister Shimon Peres. One hundred and fifty-four members of the United States Congress signed a letter of endorsement that was distributed to all members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
Many moderate Israeli and American Jews realized that, in fundamental ways, the dispute was not really about the Latter-day Saints at all. It was primarily a battle about the nature of Israeli society and the Israeli state. In a sense, they themselves were the targets of this ultra-Orthodox agitation. Was Israel really to be a Jewish state? What, then, would be the status of non-Jews within it? And what would be the status of nonreligious Jews, or of Jews who did not live according to the strict rules favored by the ultra-Orthodox? Should Judaism be enforced by law? The issues involved are much the same as those faced by many contemporary Muslims.
Posted from Washington DC