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Elie Wiesel's Jerusalem

[Middle East News service comments: The debate on Jerusalem has intensified lately with the Netanyahu Government asking Diaspora Jews to intercede on its behalf with the Obama Administration. The full page ads by the likes of Ronald Lauder and Elie Wiesel have received wide-spread publicity. American for Peace Now and former Meretz Leader Yossi Sarid have both responded effectively. However, I find Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi an even more effective reply – Sol Salbe.]

From Bernard Avishai’s blog.

Elie Wiesel's Jerusalem

The week-end International Herald Tribune brought us two statements, the first, a full page ad by Elie Wiesel, explaining his (and presumably every Jew's) attachment to Jerusalem, and second, a column by the Times' Roger Cohen, explaining his (and presumably every decent person's) attachment to facts. Just who paid for Wiesel's fancy musings on Jerusalem--an earlier version of which Christopher Hitchens eviscerated years ago--the ad does not say. Rumor has it that Bibi Netanyahu asked Wiesel to intervene, and that Ronald Lauder, who took out an ad of his own yesterday, is covering the costs. Anyway, Netanyahu's brazen use of Diaspora big shots--whose love of Jerusalem transcends love in Jerusalem--commands a certain awe. My wife, Hebrew University literary scholar, Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, has written about this before. In the following letter, a shortened version of which is scheduled for publication in the IHT, she responds to Wiesel:

In the same issue of the IHT (April 16, 2010), there appeared a full page ad (“For Jerusalem”) signed by Elie Wiesel, and Roger Cohen’s column, “The Clutches of the Dead.” Nothing could have illustrated Cohen’s point about the slim purchase that the “minority,” the Living, have over the “majority,” the Dead, better than Wiesel’s sentimental claim over all of Jerusalem on behalf of some misty-eyed notion of three thousand years of Jewish belonging.

Neither man lives in Jerusalem, my city, but Cohen articulates that very value for which many of us hoped Wiesel—who won the Nobel Prize, not for literature, but for peace—would be our spokesperson. After representing so eloquently the victims of history’s injustices in Nazi and then Soviet Europe, Wiesel would surely, we assumed, turn to the injustices perpetrated by his own people, and cry out against the occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people. Instead he tells us, with no evidence on the ground, that “Jews, Christians and Muslims are allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city.”

See the full article here:


[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]

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