Letters to the Editor do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.
The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University organized a major exhibition titled “Champion for Human Rights: The Life and Work of Elie Wiesel” on Sept. 27. Indeed, Wiesel has been awarded numerous awards — including the Nobel Peace Prize. However, to say that he is a champion of human rights is to be at odds with reality.
Being a loyal supporter of Zionism, he continues to condemn Palestinians, who have been the victims of the colonial expansion characterised by the illegal settlements in the occupied territories of West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights. He speaks of the Palestinians with a racist framework, famously condemning Hamas for “the use of children as human shields” in the 2014 conflict between Gaza and Israel, known as Operation Protective Edge. That particular statement of his appeared as an advertisement in The New York Times and other newspapers on August 4, 2014. Wiesel endorsed another advertisement in The New York Times, urging lethal actions against Iran because of its nuclear energy program.
The late historian, Howard Zinn, who also taught at Boston University, called Wiesel’s refusal to include the suffering of non-Jews at the hands of the Nazis at the United States Holocaust Museum, along with the exhibits documenting Jewish suffering, one of the most “shameful moments” in recent memory. Wiesel reasoned his actions by proclaiming that the inclusion of the sufferings of non-Jews in the Museum would be an attempt to “falsify reality” and such calls were equivalent to “stealing the Holocaust from us.”
Wiesel has asserted that Jerusalem “belongs to the Jewish people,” his rationale being that Jerusalem was mentioned more than six hundred times in the Torah while not a single time in the Qur’an. Going by his line of reasoning, Prophet Muhammed is named five times by name while Jesus is mentioned twenty five times by name in the Qur’an. So what would his conclusion be, then? He has not only ignored and distorted history, he has also advanced the lie that Israel was attacked in 1967 to justify its occupation of Jerusalem and other Arab lands. In light of the June 1967 war, the UN Security Council resolution 242 explicitly stated “the inadmissibility of acquisition of land by force” and called on Israel to withdraw from its recent occupation of Arab lands. As the resolution was not heeded by Israel, the UN Security Council passed another resolution in May 1968 that “deplored the failure of Israel to comply with international law” and “considered that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including the expropriation of land and properties, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status.”
It is quite illuminating to look at Wiesel’s own life. During 1947-49, he worked as a journalist for a Zionist group called Irgun — a terrorist group, designated by the British. So, it is undoubtedly true that he would know about the 1948 Deir Yasin massacre of innocent Palestinians and other groups perpetrated by his own organization, which at the time was headed by Menahem Begin and Yitzak Shamir. However, Wiesel goes onto argue that that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left their homes in 1948 voluntarily. He consistently goes on demanding public apologies for crimes committed against Jews but never once for the crimes committed against Palestinians. It is not surprising since he has publicly stated, “I support Israel — period. I identify with Israel — period. I never attack, I never criticise Israel.”
Noam Chomsky has called Wiesel “a terrible fraud” and for good reason. I have illuminated only some of those reasons. By no means is he a champion for human rights. One can say he is a champion of Jewish rights — a champion that distorts history and reality to advance the Zionist agenda. More than anything, he is an Israeli apologist.