Tag Archives: Wiesel

Elie Wiesel And Politics Of Jerusalem

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and famous author, unleashed a storm of anger from some residents of Jerusalem who wonder on which planet he lives to actually believe politics is not part of the life of Jerusalem. Wiesel wrote an open letter to President Obama in which he claimed, “Jerusalem is above politics. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain.” He was upset because Obama had urged Israel to cease constructing settlements in Jerusalem since that operation hindered prospects for peace. A 100 Jewish academics, human rights activists, and others who seek peace, wrote Wiesel their own letter in which they accuse him of being blind to reality. They accuse Wiesel of being blind to discrimination against Arabs in Jerusalem, and the stealing of their property by Jewish right wingers.

“Your claim that Jerusalem is above politics is doubly outrageous” because the current boundaries were decided by generals and politicians after the 1967 war. They also note Palestinian land is being grabbed in order to create a “greater Jerusalem” which will then be termed by Jewish religious zealots as too big to divide.

In his letter to Obama, Elie Wiesel presented a picture of Jerusalem that simply does not exist. To claim, “for the first time in history, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all may freely worship….. and, contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city” is smily false!

Elie Wiesel: Jerusalem Above Politics

Nobel Prize winner, Elie Wiesel in a newspaper ad urged the world to set aside Jerusalem as a point of contention and recognize the historic city does not belong in the political arena. “for me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture– and not a single time the Koran… The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate, but about memory.” His basic argument is the Jerusalem issue is too complex and should be set aside while other issues are resolved. “Why not first take steps which will allow the Israel and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security.” Any Jew would agree with Wiesel that Jerusalem is inextricably linked to their past and religion. But, during the intervening years, Jerusalem has also become part of the memory of Christians and Muslims.

Ironically, embedded in the Wiesel ad is a possible solution to the problem of the Israel and Palestinian conflict. First, one must set aside politics. That means, Israel decisions can not be influenced by the religious right wing. It means violent groups can not influence Palestinian decisions. Of course, such an approach is not on the horizon with the current Netanyahu government.