Eric J. Greenberg is a staff writer. James D. Besser is the Washington correspondent.
Washington — Since its opening in 1993, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here has tried to position itself as a respected national institution, not an instrument of Jewish politics.
But this week it became ensnared in just what it hoped to avoid when its top lay and professional leaders spurned an administration request for an official welcome for Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat during his trip to Washington.
Polish and American Jewish leaders say last week’s “Mr. Pope” incident between Poland’s chief rabbi and Pope John Paul II has damaged Jewish-Catholic relations in Poland, and could undermine negotiations involving the controversial Auschwitz cross.
And adding to the Auschwitz cross controversy is Riverdale Rabbi Avi Weiss, who on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington for violating his First Amendment rights by barring him from speaking at this week’s biannual board meeting.