Holocaust Survivors Counter Elie Wiesel’s Hateful Ad

Like many Jews of my generation and subsequent ones, I read Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” when I was very young. I was moved,

Elie Wiesel doesn't want to hear about human rights when it comes to Israel

Elie Wiesel doesn’t want to hear about human rights when it comes to Israel

frightened and terribly saddened by the horrors Wiesel and millions of others suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

But Wiesel has failed to learn the lessons of his own experience. Rather than universalizing the call to end the oppression of people regardless of the race, religion or beliefs of either the oppressed or the oppressor, Wiesel has made a special exception for Israel.

For decades, Wiesel was notably silent when it came to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But in recent years, he has broken that silence not to defend millions of people suffering under occupation but to be an apologist and even defender of some of Israel’s worst excesses. That state of affairs reached something of a zenith recently when Wiesel, along with the crazed fanatical “rabbi” Smuley Boteach, placed ads defending Israel’s murderous onslaught on Gaza. The terminology they used would have made Goebbels proud.

In short, Elie Wiesel has become a monster, in a very real sense.

I’m gratified to say that not every Holocaust survivor has dealt with their trauma by cowering in tribalism and spewing the kind of venom Wiesel does. Some of them have organized an open letter condemning Wiesel, Israel’s assault on Gaza and the international community for supporting it. Continue reading

Bibi’s Use of Holocaust Memory: Not Just Wrong, An Obscenity

A slightly edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog.

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem

April 28 is the day on which Jews all around the world commemorate the Holocaust. It’s an important day, a somber time for obvious reasons. One would think it would be treated with respect, especially by self-defined “Jewish leaders.” And yet, it comes as no surprise that at least one such leader, the Prime Minister of Israel, would cynically use the memory of the Holocaust to further a political agenda that presses for war and uses the Holocaust memory to further the goal of ongoing occupation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made what was probably the clearest statement of sympathy for the history of Jewish suffering in World War II ever by a Palestinian leader. He called it “…”the most heinous crime against humanity in modern history.” Abbas continued by offering his sympathy to the “families of the victims and the innocent people who were killed by the Nazis including the Jews and others.” That is a decidedly clear statement, acknowledging the Jews specifically, but also not forgetting that nearly an equal number of non-Jews were killed in the Nazi camps.

Many Jews around the world welcomed Abbas’ statement, as well we should. But Netanyahu used the opportunity to declare once again that “rather than releasing declarations aimed at soothing international public opinion, he must choose between Hamas and true peace.” Bibi dismissed Abbas’ statement as a public relations move. Continue reading

Putin and the Jews

There is a movement afoot, with some big stars lending their names, to move the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi in Russia, or to boycott those games over the increasing volume of hate against LGBT folk in Russia. Not a few are drawing the entirely accurate comparison to the passage in Nazi Germany of discriminatory laws. It was not only that such laws led to where we all know it led, but even in the short term, it gave license to those jack-booted thugs to carry out violence, most often against Jews, but also against others. It permitted the police and other authorities to look the other way. And that’s why the comparison to Russia, where a similar dynamic is underway regarding LGBT folk, is perfectly apt. But, of course, there are always those who consider any comparison to the Holocaust off limits, unless it has the imprimatur of the “official” Jewish community. I explore all this in my latest piece for Souciant.

MK Ahmed Tibi’s Speech in the Knesset On Yom Ha’Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

Ahmed Tibi is perhaps the Knesset’s most controversial member. Eloquent (in Hebrew), he is an unflinching critic of Israel’s occupation and its treatment of its Arab citizens and has frequently been the target of his fellow Knesset members.

MK Ahmed Tibi (photo by Lisa Goldman)

In 2010, on the UN Holocaust Remembrance Day, he delivered a speech so brilliant and moving that even the right-wing Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin called it “one of the best speeches he has ever heard in the plenum” about the Holocaust.

Rivlin’s saying that is particularly noteworthy since, while always respecting the Holocaust and its meaning for Jews, Tibi did not back away from saying that racism is a growing problem in Israel today.

I provide the full text of Tibi’s speech below. Continue reading

Updating Anti-Semitism

In my latest piece for Souciant, I take on the growing use of Holocaust rhetoric to support an Israeli attack on Iran. In particular, the idea that Jews are more justified in drastic acts of self-defense because of the traumatic effect of the Holocaust that still lingers.

Also, Souciant has weathered another attack. Please help support this site that is drawing fire from the far right (current evidence suggests ultra-right/neo-Nazi groups are attacking it) by not only reading my piece, but the many other worthwhile articles on the site, and tell your friends.