Suckin’ Wiesel

Tom Kelly took to quoting Elie Wiesel in his eulogy for the SDLP:

Elie Wiesel, the author and survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald speaking at the millennium lecture series in 1999 asked the two questions about the legacy of the 20th century and how it would be judged. He said it will be judged severely in “both moral and metaphysical terms”. He said the failures were self-evident: “two world wars, countless civil wars, the senseless assassinations of Gandhi, Kennedy, King, Sadat, Rabin, bloodbaths in Cambodia, Nigeria, India, Kosovo and Ireland”. Yes, he included us as part of what he called the “failures that cast a dark shadow over humanity in the 20th century”. In his words: “so much violence, so much indifference”.

Indifference to Wiesel is a “strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil”.

Barfff!! The mention of Ireland in the speech, whilst certainly the sort of thing that makes your average SDLP member’s heart swell with pride since it appears to put Ireland on the world stage yet again, was no doubt an ingratiating hat-tip to his host, Bill Clinton, who had recently had something to do with the Belfast Agreement.

Wiesel is no stranger to bouts of indifference himself, as Christopher Hitchens once pointed out, in an article where he described him as a a ‘poseur and windbag who receives (and takes as his due) such grotesque deference on moral questions.’

In 1982, after Gen. Ariel Sharon had treated the inhabitants of the Sabra and Shatila camps as target practice for his paid proxies, Wiesel favored us with another of his exercises in neutrality. Asked by the New York Times to comment on the pogrom, he was one of the few American Jews approached on the matter to express zero remorse. “I don’t think we should even comment,” he said, proceeding to comment bleatingly that he felt “sadness– with Israel, and not against Israel.” For the victims, not even a perfunctory word.

and furthermore:

the bulk of US overseas military aid is about to be lavished on a man (Ariel Sharon) who stood with hands on hip, in belt and boots and steel helmet and binoculars, and saw a mound of human corpses rise, and who thought it good. For this outcome, the soil has been manured by the beautiful thoughts of Elie Wiesel.

That was back in the day when Hitchens wasn’t an apologist for imperialist wars of aggression. Perhaps his tune on Wiesel had changed by the time both men had declared their support for the Iraq war.


1 Response to “Suckin’ Wiesel”

  1. 1 JG January 23, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    “I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

    For me, the quote that best illustrates the sickening hypocricy of the man. Hitchens is hardly any better.

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