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July 6, 2016 5:53 am

UK Op-Ed Scolds Elie Wiesel for ‘Blind Spot Towards the Palestinians’

avatar by Adam Levick

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Elie Wiesel with former President George W. Bush and the Dalai Lama. Photo: wiki commons.

Elie Wiesel with former President George W. Bush and the Dalai Lama. Photo: wiki commons.

Over at Israellycool, you can find a collection of tweets by some vile Israel haters vilifying Elie Wiesel on the day that the world learned of his passing at age 87. The tweets, by bigots such as Max Blumenthal, Ali Abunimah, and Richard Silverstein, smear the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner as a racist, and a supporter of Israeli “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians.

An op-ed (Elie Wiesel’s life was a metaphor for Israel and its politics, July 3) by Rupert Cornwell published at The Independent about Wiesel’s legacy doesn’t go nearly as far as this group of extremists, but it nonetheless attempts to sully his moral reputation by accusing him of speaking out injustices across the globe, while showing a huge blind spot with regard to Israel’s “oppression” of Palestinians.

The op-ed’s use of Wiesel’s death to repeat tired old calumnies, and borderline antisemitic tropes, begins in the second paragraph.

In his later years, he was not so much witness of the unspeakable as a metaphor for Israel. If you disagreed with Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, if you believed that a people who had suffered so much should understand the miseries they were inflicting on another people, then you would not appreciate Wiesel and his blind spot towards the Palestinians.

Note that Cornwell repeats a narrative used by former MP David Ward. Ward wrote on his website on International Holocaust Memorial Day in 2013 that he was saddened that “the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in…Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis…”.

Ward was widely criticized for his remarks, which echoed a truly reprehensible narrative (sometimes advanced within anti-Zionist and antisemitic circles) characterized by Howard Jacobson as perversely subjecting Jews to an “elevated moral scrutiny” as a result of their suffering in the Holocaust. By this logic, Jacobson argued, “the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t.”

The Indy op-ed continues:

He fought for the rights of the oppressed and persecuted elsewhere in the world – the Soviet Jews, the Bosnians and Kosovans in the former Yugoslavia, and the victims of the Rwandan genocide. Constantly, he warned of the abyss into which racism might lead us. But he seemed indifferent to the plight of the people next door to Israel, under effective occupation, the rump territory allotted to them eroded by settlements, their rights as a state denied to them.

If you disliked the grip that Israel had on the politics of America, its great protector in the world, and America’s reflexive support for the Jewish state, then Wiesel would make you uneasy…

Though Cornwell concludes by commending Wiesel for his contribution to safeguarding Holocaust memory, his evocation — in the sentence above — of classic antisemitic tropes about Jewish-Israeli control of the US political system would certainly make many anti-racists “uneasy.”

The op-ed’s attack on Israel and Wiesel is a perfect example of the toxic calculus that views Israel primarily as an oppressive political actor in the region — a view that morally implicates Jews everywhere (including Holocaust survivors) unless they take a stand against this injustice.

It evidently didn’t occur to Cornwell that Wiesel didn’t “speak-up” against Israel in part because he simply didn’t accept the binary good-evil, oppressed-oppressor paradigm of the conflict advanced by the opinion elite in the UK. In fact, he viewed Israel not as an oppressor, but as the victim of decades of Palestinian Arab rejectionism, extremism, violence and antisemitism.

This shameful op-ed represents yet another example of how the Independent has surpassed the Guardian in the race to the bottom within the myopic and obsessive criticism of Israel that characterizes British media coverage of Israel.

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  • It’s more correct to say that the complete Arab League & Muslim world has a blind spot towards their ‘brothers’, the so called Palestinians.

    What has either of them ever done to better their lives?

    Answer: nothing.

    They have used & abused them for their personal & political career & purpose.

  • Elie Wiesel did nothing wrong concerning Palestinians! In fact those people who did give him the Nobel Peace Price do and did supports financially Palestinian terrors! By a know tactic to me of Nordic history of giving and taking Pull – Push tactics psychology brain terrors against human minds where there is no solution for whatever situation is! In fact France and Germany wants to create a military union by feeling something is going wrong with NATO staged political frauds against Russia and involved in Afghanistan where USA solders do not know who is the real enemy. Jens Stoltenberg of NATO did by forcing a person in his political party to give a Nobel Peace Prize to EU which is absurd! We se what is going on in EU! Just as what is going on in USA political campaign of H. Clinton and Trump which we se clearly import of terrors from without and within USA. The Dallas Killer was targeted in Afghanistan by a woman to attack his mind, pushing him out of mind balance, where his brain did attack his own mind pushing him from behind to commit a killing out of hate which he was a never one! Some people did say that he was a good person! Afghanistan is a tool to attacks the collective people brains in USA.

  • dante

    I have no idea of what Elie a”h felt about what used to be called the “Arab refugees.” I don’t know what if anything he said about them privately or publicly.

    for the sake of argument, let’s say that Elie made no public utterances about what are now called the “Palestinians.” why would Elie have been required to speak out on their behalf?

    they are largely the authors of the own fate. they were and are unwilling to acknowledge that Israel is the Jewish homeland and that it was made thus by Holy Writ, recognized in Islam; the Jews lived there thousands of years before the Muslims conquered the land. (this fact is so vexing for the “Palestinians” that many of them have fabricated risible accounts of their ancient “Jebusite” or “Canaanite” heritage. one of the most shameless liars of the p.a. is from the Hawaitah tribe [i.e. not a “Palestinian”] which lived in the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula. but, he has lately come to claim that his antecedents were Jebusite.)

    but, the Palestinians are unwilling to consider coexistence with the Jews. the Palestinians refused to share the land. on numerous occasions, they chose hatred and belligerence over friendship and peace.

    even now, the “moderate” p.a. is, with the notable exception of security cooperation (which serves its own interest), relentlessly campaigning to subvert Israel, encourage terrorism, spread slander and hatred against Israel and the Jews and so poison the next generation that peace will not be a viable option for many years to come. the p.a. demands and receives Israel’s support but cannot bring itself to acknowledge it. the Palestinians are a thankless people who demand services but who don’t pay taxes, don’t offer any national service to their own people, steal water, electricity, and rip-off whatever is not secured with military-grade protection. now, with e.u., u.n. and ngo assistance, they are stealing land inside and outside the “green line.” [stealing, theft, plunder are time-honored traditions – not p.c.? try reading accounts written by Arabs or their friends, e.g. TE Lawrence – try learning a little history.]

    the Palestinian standard of living, which is high by regional and historical standards and much improved since 1967, would be immeasurably better if funds, including foreign assistance, were not stolen by the p.a. leadership and were not diverted to support terrorists. but, it is easier and preferable to the Palestinians to indict the Jews than to forswear hatred, murder and theft.

    so, perhaps, Elie did not make the Arab refugees a major focus of his attention. if he did not, it’s not hard to see why.