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 World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →