There are so many ways to write the obituary of Elie Wiesel. We’re going to get a belly-full of the panegyric kind over the next few weeks. This isn’t that kind.
Being a Buchenwald survivor & losing close family members in the holocaust deeply affected Wiesel. But instead of putting his grief to good purpose by joining with others in the international struggle against racism & colonialism, he wedded himself to Zionism, the rightwing nationalism based on belief in Jewish supremacism.
Within a few years of his release, at the young age of 20, he began his descent into nationalist supremacism by translating articles for the Irgun, a criminal paramilitary death squad that helped create the state of Israel by the use of terrorism, including bombings & massacres of Palestinians. The Irgun eventually formed the basis of the Israeli army, still notorious for unspeakable brutality against Palestinians.
With growing prominence as a writer, he began to grasp the commercial value of milking the horrors of the holocaust for personal gain & to promote a Jewish-only state. He became a master at self-serving platitudes like in his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech when he famously said, “I swore never to be silent whenever & wherever human beings endure suffering & humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Our man wasn’t silent. Nor certainly neutral. His bullhorn of choice was taking out full-page ads in international media to promote Jewish immigration to Israel, illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, & most despicably at the height of the 2014 bombing siege in Gaza, he justified that assault. While Israeli warplanes were bombing hospitals, schools, residences, refugee centers for seven weeks, this nationalist jackass took out an ad accusing Palestinians of using their children as human shields. That’s a hell of a condemnation that should be put on his tombstone.
For honing the art of propaganda in support of Jewish supremacism over Palestinians & to promote the state of Israel, our man has a pile of awards that go a mile high. He may be one of the most feted people in the world. That’s what you get for supporting colonialism & ethnic cleansing.
You’re supposed to find something good about a person when they die. There’s no reason to do that since the impending panegyrics will invent entire catalogs of virtues to attribute to him. If we must find some, let it be said he aged well & was a snappy dresser.
Let his epitaph reflect the life he led: he supported colonialism & the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by carpet bombing that targeted children. He lived his own damnation. In his support of Israel, he knew no shame.
(Photo of Wiesel by Michael Fattal)