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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated magazine featured an extensive profile on Orthodox-Jewish college basketball player Aaron Liberman on Wednesday.  The article details Liberman’s efforts to balance faith, academics and basketball at Tulane University, a challenge the young athlete calls “a triple major.” Sports Illustrated pointed out that Liberman is the second Orthodox student to play Division I college basketball. The other was Tamir Goodman, the so-called “Jewish Jordan.” As reported in The Algemeiner, Liberman started his NCAA career at Northwestern University. According to [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.