FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Elie Wiesel for President?

by DANIEL McGOWAN

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has suggested Elie Wiesel to replace Moshe Katzav as President of Israel. Katzav is being forced to resign amid charges of rape.

Wiesel’s qualifications for the job are unimpeachable. He is the icon of what Norman Finkelstein has called “The Holocaust Industry’ and as such he has served as a prop to “get the Jewish vote” by every American President since Gerald Ford. He defends Israel as “the Jewish state,” in spite of the fact that over half of the population in the lands controlled by Israel is non-Jewish, mostly Palestinian Arabs. He won’t call Ketziot or Gaza a concentration camp; he won’t call the “security barrier” a wall; and he won’t admit that Israel is an apartheid state where Jews have the hegemony and where non-Jews have lesser rights or none at all.

To Wiesel the Holocaust concerns only Jewish suffering, a culmination of 2,000 years of persecution by the goyim. Like the virgin birth, the parting of the Red Sea, and Noah’s ark, the Holocaust is mystical, unfathomable, and unquestionable. For Wiesel “Auschwitz cannot be explained nor can it be visualized…. The Holocaust transcends history…. The dead are in possession of a secret that we, the living, are neither worthy of nor capable of recovering…. The Holocaust [is] the ultimate event, the ultimate mystery, never to be comprehended or transmitted.” (Elie Wiesel, “Trivializing the Holocaust,” New York Times, 16 April 1978.)

He is a multi-millionaire, but carefully cultivates the image of a perpetually disheveled professor. Although he has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Guardian of Zion Medal, and the Oprah Book Award, many people in Israel resent the way he has used the Holocaust to make his living. Some Israelis refer to him as a “sho’an.” The word “sho’a” is Hebrew for Holocaust; with the suffix it indicates a professional specializing in the subject. So it is both funny and derogatory, not unlike Norman Finkelstein referring to Wiesel as the “resident clown” of the Holocaust circus.

Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor who lived and worked in Israel, referred to Wiesel as a “patriotic liar,” a patriot not of Romania, the country of his birth, nor of the United States, but rather a patriot of “the Jewish state” of Israel. Wiesel is said to have pressured Clinton to pardon fugitive financier Marc Rich and he has long advocated the release of convicted Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard. But he remains silent when Israel kidnaps Mordechai Vanunu (for whistle blowing that Israel has nuclear weapons), jails him for 18 years, and continues to confine him under virtual house arrest. The further incarceration of Vanunu, after serving a full sentence, was disturbing even to arch-Zionist Alan Dershowitz, but not to Elie Wiesel for whom Vanunu was not a hero to the anti-nuclear world, but simply a traitor to Israel.

In 1948 Wiesel worked as a journalist for the Irgun, a gang of Jewish terrorists who committed the massacre at Deir Yassin, arguably one of the most pivotal events in twentieth century Palestinian history. Yet this “world-renowned humanitarian” refuses to apologize or even acknowledge the murder, mayhem, and ethnic cleansing caused by his employer. He frequently goes to Yad Vashem, the most famous Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and from the Children’s Museum he looks across the valley to Deir Yassin. But he never acknowledges what his employer did there; as a patriot he simply “will not say bad things about Jews.”

Wiesel often quotes the great Jewish spiritual thinker and scholar, Martin Buber. But he ignores that Buber said, “The Deir Yassin affair is a black stain on the honor of the Jewish nation.” Like the ever-obedient patriot Wiesel consistently ignores the butchery committed by Jews at Deir Yassin and at Sabra and Shatilla and at Qana and in Jenin.

Wiesel pontificates, “The opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference.” And it is complete indifference that he has repeatedly shown to the Zionist dispossession and dehumanization of the Palestinian people. Proclaimed a “messenger to mankind” at his 1986 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, Wiesel “swore never to be silent when human beings endure suffering and humiliation.” Does that mean that he considers Palestinians to be less than human? Perish the thought that he regards Palestinians as Untermenschen like the Nazis considered Jews and Gypsies.

Many Israelis think Wiesel should have settled in Israel after the war instead of moving to France and then to the United States where he became a citizen in 1963. He proclaims, “A Jew may be Jewish far from Jerusalem; but not without Jerusalem. Though a Jew may not live in Jerusalem, Jerusalem lives inside him.” Now at age 78 it is perhaps Wiesel’s last chance to move there and to serve his country at the same time.

DANIEL McGOWAN is a Professor Emeritus at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the current director of Deir Yassin Remembered, a group of Jews and non-Jews working to build a memorial at Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem. He can be reached: mcgowan@hws.edu

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail