For some time now, the cracks in the wall that covers up Israel’s abuse of the Palestinians have become increasingly apparent. The latest panic reaction in the form of a series of pro-Israeli advertisements in the Washington Post this week was unremarkable except for their lameness — until today. An ad in today’s Washington Post containing several patently false statements and headlined “For Jerusalem” is signed only by the lauded Nazi-hunter Elie Wiesel. That Wiesel, a committed supporter of the Jewish state would want to defend it against the rising tide of criticism is not news, but that he thinks things are so bad he must risk sacrificing his reputation, built over decades of hard and effective work, by signing his name to such blatant falsehoods signals a sea change.
What threatens Wiesel’s reputation is not the polemical style of the piece. When Wiesel mentions Jordan’s closing of the Western Wall to Jews without mentioning that it was a response to Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian Muslims and Christians, we have to acknowledge that we all have our own biases;Â why devote limited space to the other side’s case? No, what threatens his reputation are blatant falsehoods such as that the Jordanian occupation and the Roman invasion wereÂ the only times in history that Jews were forbidden access to the city. Perhaps Weisel, who asserts that his own religious faith was consumed by the Holocaust,Â cannot be expected to remember the Babylonian exile, but how does he manage to forget the Crusades?
Perhaps it is unfair to expect Wiesel to be familiar with the Qur’an, but then why does he feign expertise and claim that the place is mentioned “not a single time in the Koran [sic]” displaying his ignorance of the reference to Muhammad’s night journey to Jerusalem with such arrogance?
The absurd claim that only now are Jews, Christians and Muslims free to worship at their shrines in Jerusalem when Christians and Muslims have less freedom to worship in Jerusalem today than the Jews did under the Ottomans (West Bank Palestinian Christians aren’t even allowed into the city for Easter). On top of all this, Wiesel asserts in the face of all the evidence:Â that Jews, Muslims and Christians are free to build homes anywhere in the city. Has he not heard about the expulsions in recent weeks in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood?
Elie Wiesel worked a lifetime to gain a reputation as a defender of human rights, doing battle with the Holocaust-deniers. Confronted with the cracks in the wall of silence about Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, he has decided to sacrifice it all not in the name of the God of Abraham, whom he believes was “hanged … on these gallows” of the Holocaust, but in apartheid-denial, the false god of Israel that has taken His place in his heart.
Those who wish Palestinians well need not be dismayed by this advertisement. Wiesel has harmed his own reputation more than he has harmed the cause of justice. Rather, that he would publish so fallacious a screed shows how serious the cracks in the Israeli wall of apartheid have become and encourage us to look forward to it following its South African cousin into oblivion.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute