Elie Wiesel and Shmuely Boteach Publish Hateful Ad

Elie Wiesel and Shmuely Boteach Publish Hateful Ad

by Sheila Musaji

Elie Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, but somehow he has a lack of moral clarity when it comes to the State of Israel. 

Wiesel said in his 1986 address upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, that during the Holocaust:

“the world did know and remained silent.  And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the tormented.  Sometimes we must interfere.  When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”

Beautiful words, but as it turns out, for Wiesel, they only apply to Jews and the State of Israel.

In 2009, Michael Berg wrote Is Elie Wiesel Truly a Moral Authority for Humanity? in which he discussed Wiesel’s praise for Pastor John Hagee and his Christian Zionists.  As Berg noted Wiesel’s support for Hagee is self-serving at best:

...  Hagee is a televangelist who gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential campaign when Senator John McCain accepted Hagee’s endorsement, and then rejected it, after some of Hagee’s more controversial views were widely publicized. In sermons Hagee has declared that God divinely ordained the Holocaust in order to fulfill biblical prophesy and return the Jews to Israel. He has claimed Jews should be blamed for anti-Semitism: it has been God’s punishment against the Jewish people for their rebelliousness. He has predicted that when the Anti-Christ comes to Earth he will be homosexual and “partially Jewish as was Adolph Hitler and was Karl Marx.” (In reality, Marx was Jewish, Hitler was not.)

Although Wiesel has spent his life condemning anti-Semitic ideas like those of Hagee, he offers only praise for the televangelist. Why? Wiesel supports Hagee because Hagee supports the government of Israel.  Hagee leads Christians United For Israel, America’s largest and most powerful Christian Zionist organization. He organizes evangelical Christians to support Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He defends Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, which reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed 1,400 Palestinians, one third of them children.

Hagee supports Israeli actions because he believes Jews must fully inhabit the Holy Land for the final apocalypse to come and bring destruction to the world and salvation to true Christians. Wiesel supports Israel because as a Jew he feels a religious and national connection to the state. Wiesel is willing to ignore Hagee’s anti-Semitic and apocalyptic views because he thinks it will further his goal of promoting Israel. ...

As. Rev. Frank Julian Gelli noted regarding Wiesel’s statements about the Status of Jerusalem:

” ... ‘Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital’, you contend. Once again, I wholeheartedly agree. But two points. First, a spiritual capital is not the same as a political capital. Rome is the spiritual capital of Roman Catholics. It is not, however, their political capital. Canterbury is Anglicanism’s spiritual centre but Anglicans have no political allegiance to it. Orthodox Christians still regard Constantinople as their spiritual navel, but few would ask the Turks to give it back. Moreover, you seem to conflate Judaism with the state of Israel. Not all Jews accept that identification but, even waving that, why should Jerusalem the spiritual necessarily be Jerusalem the political? Namely, the capital of the Israeli state? Unclear, to say the least.

Second, spiritual imperialism must have limits. Jerusalem is not sacred only to Jews. This is not a political claim. It is a straightforward factual, historical statement. In the New Testament – as you are fond of statistics - Jerusalem is named 159 times – a very high number, given also that the NT is much smaller than the OT. You might have heard a Jew called Jesus of Nazareth once preached, taught, suffered, was crucified and arose from the grave in the very city of David. Sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives have been and still are much revered, the objects of pious pilgrimages from the worldwide followers of that Jewish Jesus.

You know, my heart overflows with emotion and my eyes with tears when I think about my beloved Lord’s life, his ministry, his passion, his agony in Jerusalem. So you see, you are not the only one to be moved, anguished or rejoiced, by ancestral memories connected with the holy city. Christians are, too.  And amongst mankind, Christians – nominal or actual - number 2.1 billion. It is fair to conclude they too have at least as rightful and as strong a claim to the spiritual Jerusalem as 1.5 billion Muslims and 14 million Jews.

You announce that Jerusalem should not be ‘a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope’. Absolutely. A godly intention we share. But that intention is undermined by your peremptory claim that Jerusalem ‘belongs to the Jewish people’. That is not an expression of trust and hope. It is not what one would expect from a messenger to mankind. I, as an occasional meek Christian, might bow my head and turn the other cheek. Muslims will not and you have no right to expect them to do so. Strife and bloodshed will surely follow. ...”

Arthur Hertzberg noted in An open letter to Elie Wiesel during a previous conflict in the Holy Land:

...  In the memory of the Holocaust we have been reminded by you that silence is a sin. You have spoken out against indifference and injustice. Why are you making a special exception of Israel? Do you think that our silence will help Israel? The texts that we study and restudy teach the contrary. “Israel will be redeemed by righteousness, and those who return to it, by acts of loving kindness.” To be silent is an act of misplaced love. Such silence gives free reign to the armed zealots of ages past, and of this day. Several times in our history, armed zealots have led the Jewish people to glorious disasters. Encouragement by silence, of the kind some of the rabbis gave the zealots when they declared war on Rome in the first century, has a long history of being tragically wrong. We dare not repeat this mistake.

The excesses of the zealots may succeed today, briefly, as they succeeded for a moment several times before, but such excesses are likely to lead again to disaster. Teachers of morality must not indulge the zealots of today, and not only because zealotry does not work. To suppress the weak because of our own supposed weakness is against the very essence of our tradition. When we were a group of hunted former slaves in the desert, Moses proclaimed, as divine teaching, that we should not oppress strangers, for we had been oppressed as strangers in the land of Egypt. This injunction is unconditional. ...

And, this week, during the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, an article in the Algemeiner Elie Wiesel Condemns Hamas for Using Children as Human Shields, Calls on Gazans to Reject Hamas’s Child Sacrifice  (whose headline along tells any decent human being that this is a Hasbara/propaganda effort) tells the following story.

Elie Wiesel has put his name to a full-page ad.  The full page Op-Ed ad will appear in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, as well as in ads on social media, while a television campaign is also planned.  Here is a PDF upload of the full page newspaper ad headlined Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago.  Now it’s Hamas’ turn.  Wiesel and his organization published the ad which Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s organization, This World: The Values Network created the ad campaign. 

A few passages:

“... the blame lies solely with Hamas who use children as human shields and stores rockets and ammunition in nurseries, schools, hospitals, and family homes. ...”

— “I call upon President Obama and the leaders of the world to condemn Hamas’ use of children as human shields.” This formula of course gives Israel a blank check to kill Palestinian children, while blaming Hamas for using them as “shields.” ...

So, all the blame is on Hamas.  Israel bears no responsibility.  And, Wiesel wants the U.S. President to condemn Hamas for all of the deaths brought about by Israel’s assault on Gaza.  Whatever Israel chooses to do to the Palestinians, they are being forced to do.  Repeating propaganda doesn’t make it true.  For example, here is just one article among many on the “human shields” issue:  I saw no evidence of Hamas using human shields by Jeremy Bowen.  This is morally reprehensible, repugnant, and unacceptable.

According to Algemeiner:

... “Boteach said his mission is “to promote universal Jewish values and the light of the Jewish people.  Israel is the supreme embodiment of these Jewish values, in which we all take such immense pride. Israel is a culture of life which promotes the infinite value of life while Hamas is a gay-murdering, women-honor-killing, deeply-misogynistic, stone-age, barbaric-terrorist death cult dedicated to genocide.” ...

As far as I am concerned, Rabbi Boteach has failed in that mission, as Wiesel has failed in his.  They have turned Israel into a golden calf, and worship it in place of or at least above the One God of Israel, like Muslim extremists, Christian extremists, and all religious extremists, they interpret their Book in such a way that they actually do violence to the text.  They also damage the reputation of Judaism in the minds of people who take them at their word that Judaism IS equivalent to Israel, and the actions of the Government of Israel represent the teachings of Judaism.

This is a lie.  Just as the extremist Muslims who claim all sorts of things are justified by Islam are lying.
Wiesel and Boteach are parroting hasbara talking points as if they are facts.  Wiesel and Boteach have now put themselves squarely in the same moral swamp as individuals like Pamela Geller. 

They also join a group of individuals who I have written about in the article The Gaza assault brings out the Jewish extremists.  That article discusses Rabbi Dov Lior, Prof. Thane Rosenbaum, Gilad Sharon, Ayelet Shaked, Moshe Feiglin, Ambassador Ron Dermer, Martin Sherman, Yochanan Gordon, and Benjamin Netanyahu - all of whom have made hateful statements in the past two weeks. 

Key points in these hateful statements — exterminate the enemy, destroy entire Gaza Strip, no civilians in Gaza, kill families and mothers of the enemy, rape the enemies sisters and mothers, Gaza will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews, everything west of the River Jordan belongs to Israel — ought to shock all civilized people.  This is extremism and hate speech.

As M.J. Rosenberg noted in The Jews of Silence :

...  I do know this. From now on, I will never listen to those who speak of the world’s silence during the Holocaust without wondering what the speaker thought about Gaza. (Elie Wiesel, for instance, is nothing less than a cheerleader for this war although, to be fair, he has NEVER criticized any human rights violations by Israel—the glaring exception to his rule.)

The world was silent about the killing of 1.5 million kids in the Holocaust. No, this is not the Holocaust and Netanyahu is not Hitler but dead kids are dead kids, unless you are morally blind.

This is different. But there is another difference. There were no photographs of the children killed in the Holocaust. In fact, the “world” didn’t know about them until after the killing was long over.

This time the pictures are there. The little kids next to their mother’s body. The dead baby in a crib with a teddy bear. The three brothers screaming in agony because they are alone in the world. The father who lost all three children and his wife. The mother screaming in agony at the bombed hospital where her twins were killed. The 19-year old Israeli soldiers, smiling out of the front page of Ha’aretz. Their friends screaming in pain at the funerals.

All dead in a war of choice, a war that was chosen as the preferred alternative to diplomacy.

And yet we are silent.

God Bless M.J. Rosenberg, and all the others who have spoken out against this!

The Islamophobia of some folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences

Muslim scholars have spoken out against holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.   American Jews have spoken out against Pamela Gellers hateful ads.

There are righteous, moral people among Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and we all need to remain aware and counter the arguments of those who promote anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Arabophobia, or any other such hatred.  We all need to speak out and tell individuals or groups promoting such hatred that they do not speak in our name.  We must find a way to coexist or we won’t exist.

Many among all of the Children of Abraham are attempting to retain hope in the midst of awful sadness and horror at man’s inhumanity to man - they are speaking out and attempting to build bridges.  We MUST not let these prophets of doom take away our determination to find a way to bring peace and justice to all.



An open letter to Elie Wiesel, Arthur Hertzberg (1988) http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1988/aug/18/an-open-letter-to-elie-wiesel/

The Blogger Who Offered an Argument for Palestinian Genocide, Gideon Resnick http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/01/the-blogger-who-offered-an-argument-for-palestinian-genocide.html

Israeli Website Publishes Piece Titled “When Genocide is Permissible”, http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/08/01/israel_pro_genocide_column_times_of_israel_publishes_then_takes_down_piece.html

Jewish “Ahavah shel achvah” Brotherly Love is Difficult for Some to Attain (list of bigoted statements), Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/jewish_ahavah_shel_achvah_brotherly_love_is_difficult_for_some_to_atta

Jewish Newspaper Articles Call for Murder/Genocide of Muslims/Arabs, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/jewish_newspaper_article_calls_for_murder_of_innocent_muslims/0017056

For Jerusalem: Answer to Elie Wiesel, Rev. Frank Julian Gelli http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/for_jerusalem_answer_to_elie_wiesel

Is Elie Wiesel Truly a Moral Authority for Humanity? By Michael Berg http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/is_elie_wiesel_truly_a_moral_authority_for_humanity

Reprint of Yochanan Gordon’s “When Genocide is Permissible” (Updated) http://mondoweiss.net/2014/08/yochanan-genocide-permissible.html

Taking a Stand: A Reflection on Elie Wiesel and Hedy Epstein,  Mark Chmiel http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/taking_a_stand_a_reflection_on_elie_wiesel_and_hedy_epstein

Times Of Israel Publishes Op-Ed About ‘When Genocide Is Permissible’, Then Deletes It, Catherine Taibi http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/01/times-of-israel-genocide-article-post-deleted_n_5641971.html?utm_hp_ref=media&ir=Media

Times of Israel, 5 towns paper, remove posting pondering genocide in Gaza http://www.jta.org/2014/08/01/news-opinion/united-states/times-of-israel-5-towns-paper-remove-posting-pondering-genocide-in-gaza

‘When Genocide Is Permissible’ Article Taken Down By The Times Of Israel: Yochanan Gordon’s Post Sparks Outrage, Howard Koplowitz http://www.ibtimes.com/when-genocide-permissible-article-taken-down-times-israel-yochanan-gordons-post-sparks-1646490

Whoa: Times of Israel Op-Ed advocates genocide against Gazans, Tina Nguyen http://www.mediaite.com/online/whoa-times-of-israel-op-ed-advocates-genocide-against-gazans/ 

Elie Wiesel: Go with Us to Gaza!: An Appeal to the Nobel Peace Laureate http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/elie_wiesel_go_with_us_to_gaza_an_appeal_to_the_nobel_peace_laureate