Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Boteach: Elie Wiesel’s NYT Iran Ad ‘Not About Israel or the Jewish People, but About Human Rights’ (INTERVIEW)

December 18, 2013 5:46 pm 5 comments
Elie Wiesel's ad in the New York Times, on December 18, 2013.

Elie Wiesel's ad in the New York Times, on December 18, 2013.

Elie Wiesel’s  full-page ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are “not about Israel or the Jewish people, but about human rights,” Rabbi Shmuely Boteach told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

“Elie Wiesel is championing humanity with this ad,” Rabbi Boteach said in an interview. “This is not about Israel or the Jewish people, this is about human rights. One of the world’s greatest moral authorities, Elie Wiesel, is saying this disastrous brutal regime of Iran cannot be trusted.”

Rabbi Boteach said the ad, which was written by Wiesel, contains three messages: that Iran should not be allowed to remain nuclear, that there should be no negotiations until Iran, including its elected officials and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, repudiates all genocidal claims against Israel, and that the U.S. Senate should be able to vote on the lifting of sanctions, preferably before its upcoming holiday recess.

Rabbi Boteach’s organization, This World: The Values Network, produced the ad, while Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt paid for them to run on Wednesday in the NYT and Thursday in the WSJ.

The rabbi said the idea for the ads came out of a celebratory dinner after a lecture at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, in September, titled ‘Genocide,‘ featuring Wiesel, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Sheldon Adelson and Steinhardt.

At the lecture, six weeks before the Geneva agreement that rolled back sanctions on Iran, Wiesel strongly objected to the U.S. overtures with Iran, as long as the regime continued with its genocidal rhetoric toward Israel.

“I think America should adopt a very harsh line, a more truthful line and say to Iran that you cannot continue like that, not with our consent you can’t,” he said, in response to being asked if the U.S. should be negotiating with Iran before they renounce their “genocidal aspirations.”

Afterward, at a dinner with the panelists and their spouses, “all of us lifted a glass to say l’chaim,” Rabbi Boteach said. “My toast was to Prof. Wiesel, who I said had been my hero since I first read his book ‘Night’ as a young student, and I said, Rabbi Eliezer, that’s what I call him, it would be of inestimable value if you could consider a serious public statement about the dangers of this rapprochement with Iran.”

“We didn’t feel that the administration [of U.S. President Barack Obama] was taking Iran seriously enough, starting overtures without Iran having to repudiate their genocidal calls, while the president of the U.S. and the president of Iran are already exchanging tweets about traffic patterns in New York City! We just felt it was inappropriate.”

“I said to Prof. Wiesel, no voice on Earth carries the moral authority that yours does, not just about the Holocaust… Once the deal in Geneva was signed, then he said he was willing to go ahead. Once we saw how forcefully [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] believed this as well, and how he was willing to become a thorn in the side of the [U.S.] administration, Prof. Wiesel said, ‘This is the time to do it.'”

Prof. Wiesel, who has written more than 40 books since ‘Night,’ in 1958, was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the Advisory Board Chairman of The Algemeiner.

5 Comments

  • Mr Leovy is a true reflection of current mainstream thought. However rational simplicity, sweeping aside the tidal wave of death and destruction that has washed over the global community by the hand of Khomeinists radical Islam. He like others ignore the genocidal fratricide against the Iranian People, the slaughter of tens of thousands in 1979 & the late 1980’s. As if having the highest execution of men, women children in the world is not enough, nor the thousands of Iranian that have fled their country. Iran’s hand in Sudan’s genocide to spending several billion dollars in asymmetrical wars against Israel is of little consequence. There is a reason why Iran designated for over two decades as the leader in sponsoring International terrorism. To this destructive and terrible entity people of blind cataleptic rationalizing would hand nuclear weapons.

  • Mr. Wiesel may have great moral authority, but his specific recommendations should be judged based on the strategic intelligence they embody, and by this standard they should be rejected. It is plain that neither negotiations nor robust multi-lateral sanctions will survive a US demand, “as a condition of continued talks, the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.” While those scandalized by the exchange of tweets about New York traffic may take comfort in the absolutist position Mr. Wiesel advocates, this position is counterproductive for the goal of minimizing the threat to Israel, as many Israelis who have devoted their careers to Israel’s security have articulated. Security is enhanced by talking to your adversaries, and negotiating – which is not the same as the demand for full capitulation that Mr. Wiesel proposes – does not in and of itself imply inordinate trust. Mr. Obama is correct that the most durable solution to this problem is a negotiated one. This advertisement makes such a solution less likely.

    • So you think that security is enhanced by talking to your enemies? Funny you say that because in September 1938 Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain and Eduard Deladier of France had the same ideawhen they went crawling to Hitler and signed away Czechoslovakia’s freedom and independence.

      But at least Chamberlain, within 6 months, realized that there is no satiating the appetite of a tyrant seeking to dominate the world and Deladier, reportedly immediately on his return to Paris, had only contempt at the mobs of Frenchmen and women who applauded his loathsome betrayal of the only democracy then in Central Europe.

      Giving Obama the benefit of the doubt that he really does not want to stick it to Israel ( and I’m not prepared to do so) his capitulation at the agreement that ‘s been revealed so far (and I don’t believe that’s all the US negotiated away)Obama ‘s failure to get tough with the Iranians will be seen as weakness to their policy of pursuing world domination and through the export of terrorism throughout the world just as Chamberlain’s- and Deladier’s – capitulation to Nazi demands only whetted the German’s appetite for conquest.

      It is a lesson that the President apparently has not yet learned – to the detriment NOT ONLY of Israel but to the rest if the free world including the United States

      • Yes, security is enhanced by talking to your enemies. That you conflate negotiation with large and one-sided concessions does not alter this.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli actress Moran Atias said that playing a Muslim woman in the hit FX series Tyrant has changed her outlook. “Educating myself about a different culture has made me more hopeful and humble, that we’re all the same,” the Jewish actress, 35, said during an interview with AOL Build. Atias plays Leila Al-Fayeed, the strong and politically minded wife of the president of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern country run by a dictatorial family. The Israeli-born former model, who earned the title of Miss Globe International […]

    Read more →