This past week we witnessed the death of Elie Wiesel. After surviving Auschwitz Wiesel devoted his life to making sure the world never forgets the atrocities of the Holocaust. He extended that notion to include any genocide taking place around the world. He was also an ardent Zionist and promoted the cause of a Jewish State while acknowledging the aspirations of the Palestinians for their own country.
It is fitting that in the week that I begin a sermon series on the power of words that I share with you an article about a tweet that Max Blumenthal, a blogger and senior writer for Alternet, sent out after learning of Wiesel’s death. It is a prime example of the power of words to hurt. In less than 140 characters Blumenthal cuts down the reputation of one of the true righteous men of our generation.
"Elie Wiesel is dead. He spent his last years inciting hatred, defending apartheid & palling around with fascists."Tweeted by Max Blumenthal.
In a recent article Joel B. Pollak, senior-editor at large for Breitbart News Network, says that Blumenthal's tweet upon hearing of the death of Wiesel "is a perfect tribute to Wiesel, who was the living retort to such nonsense." Pollak says that Wiesel earned his enemies by being a witness who not only refused to die, but refused to remain silent. Pollak goes on to say that "it was Wiesel who shaped memory into a potent political force: whenever a new genocide loomed, he was the voice of conscience, urging the world to act. In his efforts to save others, he drew no distinctions of race, religion, or ethnicity. He was as passionate in his pleas for Muslims in danger of extermination as he was in defending the State of Israel’s right to defend its citizens against Palestinian terrorism."
"It would be unnatural for me not to make Jewish priorities my own: Israel, Soviet Jewry, Jews in Arab lands … But there are others as important to me. Apartheid is, in my view, as abhorrent as anti-Semitism." Eli Wiesel on accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, 1986
Pollak points out that in the same speech, Wiesel recognized the “plight” of the Palestinians, but added that he “deplore[d]” their terrorist methods. “Let Israel be given a chance, let hatred and danger be removed from her horizons, and there will be peace in and around the Holy Land,” he said.
These are even more powerful words and deserve to be shared and remembered.