Elie Wiesel: Go with Us to Gaza!: An Appeal to the Nobel Peace Laureate

Elie Wiesel: Go with Us to Gaza!: An Appeal to the Nobel Peace Laureate

In his 1986 address upon receiving the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel pointed out 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.”

Yet, on one of the great issues of our time, the Israel-Palestine conflict, Mr. Wiesel has not abided by the moral maxims he championed in the above address. For example, in the second volume of his memoirs, he admitted, “Indeed, I can say in good faith that I have not remained indifferent to any cause involving the defense of human rights. But, you may ask, what have I done to alleviate the plight of the Palestinians? And here I must confess:  I have not done enough….In spite of considerable pressure, I have refused to take a public stand in the Israeli-Arab conflict. I have said it before:  since I do not live in Israel, it would be irresponsible for me to do so.” 

In recent years, we the undersigned have traveled to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories—the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip—and have seen for ourselves the disturbing, heart-breaking, and outrageous effects of Israel’s domination and aggression against the Palestinian people, aided and abetted by the U.S. government and armaments corporations.  December and January mark the one-year anniversary of Israel’s attack, which is described by the Goldstone Report of the United Nations as “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”

In the spirit of Mr. Wiesel’s call to interference, three people from the Metro area –Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor; Sandra Mansour, a Palestinian activist; and J’Ann Allen, a grandmother and wife of a retired military officer—will leave for Gaza on December 26th to join over a thousand internationals from approximately 40 countries on the Gaza Freedom March [http://www.gazafreedommarch.org/]. Along with 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza, they will march to call attention to the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis there.

Hedy, Sandra, and J’Ann call on Mr. Wiesel to join them and bear witness to the suffering, humiliation, and torment caused by Israel’s indiscriminate violence:

Let us go, Mr. Wiesel, and listen to the lamentations of Palestinian parents who have lost their children, and the children who are now orphans;

Let us go, and stand amid the desolate ruins everywhere the eye can see—of destroyed homes, hospitals, clinics, factories, mosques, and schools;

Let us go, and interview a few of the tens of thousands of still homeless men, women, and children;

Let us go, and listen to the doctors’ heart-rending accounts of the misery and maiming inflicted on civilians by the munitions of the Israel Defense Forces;

Let us go, and walk with the farmers among their destroyed fields, greenhouses, and groves;

Let us go, Mr. Wiesel, and make eye contact with the Gazans who daily battle hunger and daily fight despair due to Israel’s inhumane siege.

Let us refuse neutrality. Let us not be silent.

May more of us be willing to turn the following words of Mr. Wiesel into concrete deeds of solidarity and witness: “When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.”

Seeing is believing,

J’Ann Allen, Center for Theology and Social Analysis; adjunct instructor, Forest Park Community College

Anna Baltzer, Jewish American human rights advocate; author of Witness in Palestine

Barakat Barakat, SLU undergraduate

Sharifa Barakat, SLU alum, 2009

Mark Chmiel, Center for Theology and Social Analysis; adjunct professor, Saint Louis University

Hedy Epstein, Holocaust survivor; author of Remembering Is Not Enough; SLU alum

Daanish Faruqi, Graduate student, Washington University

Dianne Lee, Center for Theology and Social Analysis; professor, Forest Park Community College

Sandra Mansour, Georgetown University, Graduate School alum

Kelly McBride, Graduate student, American University at Cairo; SLU alum, 2006

Matthew Miller, Graduate student, Washington University

Angie O’Gorman, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Immigration Law Department; adjunct professor, Saint Louis University

Nima Sheth, SLU medical student; SLU alum, 2008

Magan Wiles, MFA student, University of Tennessee; SLU alum, 2004