The Elevator Interview – Elie Wiesel (Exclusive)

September 23, 2011 12:35 pm 7 comments

Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Photo: David Shankbone.

Exclusive Algemeiner Interview, by Dina Kupfer

DK: As a Holocaust survivor and Jewish activist, what do you think Jews could or should be doing for our continued, proud survival?

EW: The primary task of a Jew in these turbulent times, is to be Jewish.

DK: In 2009, you were awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama. What’s one thing you’d like to see President Obama do, or not do?

EW: I imagine, like all his predecessors, he would like to achieve greatness in bringing peace in the Middle East. I hope it will not be at the expense of Israel.

DK: Of the 40+ books you authored, do you have a favorite?

EW: I have published more than fifty volumes. All are my favorites. Some are special: Night, Souls on Fire, the Jews of Silence.

DK: You founded The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity “to fight indifference, intolerance and injustice.” What would you say is currently a root cause of indifference, intolerance, and/or injustice?

EW: Fanaticism in many lands has surfaced as the greatest threat to the world. Indifference to its consequences would be a serious mistake.

DK: On April 15, 2010, you placed full page “For Jerusalem” ads in the New York Times, Washington Post emphasizing Jewish rights to the city, denying Muslim connection to Jerusalem seen from zero references made of Jerusalem in the Koran. You wrote: “For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture—and not a single time in the Koran…the first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem.”

Did this have an impact? What feedback did you get, if any?

EW: The ad had a stunning impact in Washington and everywhere else. Many sent me their praise, some chose insults.

DK: Would you agree that building a fifteen-story mosque near Ground Zero would be like building a neo-Nazi center near a concentration camp? Why or why not?

EW: It would surely hurt Jewish sensitivity.

DK: The Norwegian Nobel Committee called you a “messenger to mankind.” What’s your message to this increasingly troubled world?

EW: Emphasis must be put on learning: there is no substitute to education. It can be briefly formulated in a few words: always, whatever you do in life, think higher and feel deeper.

7 Comments

  • Jerusalem has been the battleground of so many, for so long, and the Jews suffered mightily in these battles, so much blood shed, so much pain, and so many who conquered the City for the city to rise again. It feels to me, like a vast story, a cosmic story of war and peace. But the peace part still eludes us all, and I wonder, as in all stories there reaches that point, whether there will be a solution yet for what has been so global a fight, over a place, that seems to occupy more than… in terms of size. Israel itself is postage stamped and Israel has been larger than life… a Biblical place but more than, when it comes to hope too. It’s been a story of Wait and Hope, with each side, and there are many sides to this multi faceted gem, making claims, and so much enmity when it could be… different. At least, that’s the Dream. We work to sustain a dream, and we work towards a dream, and life is the stuff that dreams are made of.. I have a feeling something’s coming.. and it’s more than… a feeling… call it the MORE in Amore itself.

  • I remember a saying by Elie Wiesel that should be required reading in Israel;

    “No human race is superior
    No religion is inferior
    All collective judgements are wrong; only racists make them.”

    As Yom Kippur is coming up, having these words in the prayer books in the Shuls instead of rote mouthing the same medieval words every year, might make it a true religious holiday.

    • The only answer to your stupid remark is that you may be an ignoramus. For over two thousand years the Prayers said on Yom Kippur have inspired millions of Jews who were educated by their parents and they in turn educated their children to understand the meaning of those holy prayers.
      Now you come along and spew stupidity and insult those holy words? Who are you? What education in Judaism do you posess?
      Shame on you

  • Your question with reference to ground zero is insensitive and disrespectful and an extreme analogy. Also it seems like weisels response has been edited and taken out of context. I would be curious to hear his unedited response.

    • Do you think that Professor Wiesel is insensitive? I think not given what I have read over the years i.e., his books, his op-eds and etc. What is insensitive is your implications. I agree that there is a need for tolerance in the world but it must be a two way street. Jerusalem will always be the home for the Jewish people. The extremists in the Muslim world, as well some of the Leftists in the world, cannot handle a Jewish nation, cannot live aside a Jewish nation. It is an anathma to them. Did you know that almost 40% of East Jerusalem Muslim population prefer being Israeli citizens and not of the PLO. Over 30% preferred not answering (out of fear.) So Max what did you do yesterday (10/8)?

  • Always wise and inspiring. Thank God Eli Wiesel survived the Holocaust to enrich mankind with his writing. How many more like him have been lost to the hands of the Nazis, we’ll never know.

  • michael hoffman

    thank you for this nugget, the succinct words of a wise sage.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.