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Wiesel Nobel Laureate Ad Urges Iran Sanctions

Elie Wiesel and usual pro-Israel suspects, Dershowitz and Jon Voight (partially obscured in background) protest Ahmadinejad UN speech (AP)

Elie Wiesel’s much ballyhooed full page N.Y. Times ad came out today. It offers strong support for the Iranian reform movement and denounces the clerical regime. The only purely political stance it advocates is sanctions. There is no mention of force. As close as the statement gets is:

Concrete measures much be taken to protect this new nation of dissidents so that their sacrifice is not…in vain.

This statement echoes the current Israeli policy which advocates punishing sanctions to be followed, when they fail, presumably by calls for a military attack. I presume that in a few months we’ll see another ad by Wiesel with those Nobel laureates foolish enough to sell the spirit of their medal for a mess of porridge and a few bunker bombs.

There is one strange notion in the text of this ad. It calls on Presidents Obama, Sarkozy, Medvedev, and Gordon Brown and Chancellor Merkel to “put an end to this outrage.” How are they supposed to do this? And why would Wiesel presume that it would be a good thing for them to do so? This statement could easily be construed as an incipient call for intervention in Iran’s internal afffairs. Certainly, the next step would be an ad with such a call for regime change or military attack.

Another element in the rhetoric to which I object: there’s a distinct notion of western noblesse oblige about the whole thing.  Iran’s regime has “now attained new levels of horrror” with “thousands arrested…tortured, raped, and killed, many by hanging.”  Sounds pretty bad doesn’t it?  Till you stop to think, isn’t there another country in the region which kills on a far larger scale and with far more technological dexterity?  One that is currently under consideration by the UN for a war crimes referral to the International Criminal Court.  Hmmm, who could that be?  And could it be an accident that Elie Wiesel, friend of Dershowitz and Hagee, might have an ulterior motive in pointing to Iran as the supreme menace to world peace?

To be clear, this post is not a defense of Iran’s current regime.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that it is not my purpose.

A few interesting notes about the signatories and those who are missing. First, almost all signers are scientists and I’m not sure why we should trust a scientist speaking about Iranian political affairs any more than Iran analysts, academics and Iranian activists, almost all of whom speak of sanctions as counter-productive. Second, Desmond Tutu signed an earlier Wiesel ad which did not call for sanctions. He is missing from this ad. Also missing are Israel’s latest laureate, Ada Yonath, who pointedly attacked the Israeli Occupation the very day she won her award. It must’ve taken some courage for her to resist the urge to sign. Predictably among the signers is perhaps the most extreme right-winger among them, Orthodox pro-settler extremist, Robert Aumann. Other than Betty Williams, Jody Williams and Wole Soyinka, there are no Peace or Literature laureates at all. This includes Al Gore, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama (missing). Missing also is the Iranian Peace Prize laureate, Shirin Abadi.  Missing also is Alan Dershowitz, who never won a Nobel. Maybe they’ll have to create a new category for pro-Israel propagandist.

Interestingly, Wiesel also spearheaded an earlier letter after the June Iranian elections that was formulated to support Ebadi.  That letter too contained 44 signatories.  But not the same 44.  In fact, 15 of the original signers are missing in the current ad, which leads me to believe that most, if not all, decided not the join this effort because they disagreed with it.

M.J. Rosenberg reports at Huffington Post that the Senate approved an Aipac-inspired Iran sanctions bill with only FIVE MINUTES of debate and only three senators on the floor!  How’s that for democracy?

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • mary February 7, 2010, 7:06 PM

    If only these bellicose fools would realize that their advocacy of aggression is a waste of time and that their fears are imaginary. Iran has no nuclear bombs and is a long ways off from having them. Why do they persist in perpetuating this phony existential threat?

  • Crimson Ghost February 8, 2010, 4:13 AM

    With the awarding of the Nobel “Peace” prize to Barak Obama just before he decided to massively escalate the Afghan war, I, for one, have nothing but contempt for the Nobel Prize process. I suspect many others feel as I do.

    Just because a group of Nobel Prize winners support or oppose something is no reason for lesser mortals to do the same. And this goes double for matters of war and peace.

  • Elisabeth February 8, 2010, 5:13 AM

    What a lovely picture: Eli Wiesel looking suitably tragic (as always), and Dershowitz giving us a fierce look in his role of defender of the Jewish people. The red noses spoil things a bit though.

  • gloopygal February 8, 2010, 5:27 AM

    Elie Wiesel, the Professional Holocaust Survivor™. Imagine, if he hadn’t been in a concentration camp, the guy might have had to *gasp* get a job!

    • Elisabeth February 8, 2010, 10:28 AM

      I don’t like his using his saintly Holocaust survivor status for bad causes, but it is not as if he never had a job. He worked as a journalist and a writer.

    • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2010, 12:29 PM

      I think that’s rather overstated. I respect Wiesel as a witness for Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. He served that role when almost no Holocaust survivors would or could do so. And he has a voice that is legitimate. However, I don’t respect when he goes beyond this role & intervenes in Israeli politics with purely partisan motives. I have very little respect for Wiesel overall. But it’s important to understand the historical role he played and that was an entirely legitimate one.

      • gloopygal February 8, 2010, 4:42 PM

        Hi Richard, Elisabeth, sorry about that – guess I’m just bitter. If Mary thinks his novel is good – well I assumed if it was written by that guy, it must suck, but maybe one day when I feel like I don’t loathe everything connected to that guy I might bring myself to read it. What kills me is that a HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR could advocate bombing Iranians or Palestinians. He may have his merits but I believe there’s a special place in hell for the likes of him.

        • mary February 8, 2010, 5:18 PM

          That is exactly my point. Having read the book, I just cannot imagine this is the same man who wrote “Night.” To say I am disillusioned is an understatement. Wiesel seems to believe that Jews are the only people whose sufferings count in this world. I am appalled by this complete lack of caring for the rest of the human race.

          • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2010, 5:57 PM

            Some people do great things at one pt in their lives and the rest of their lives either betray that achievement or never live up to it. That’s true of people like Benny Morris & Elie Wiesel among others.

      • Brenna February 9, 2010, 6:42 AM

        The problem is that he LIED about some things in the holocaust and his excuse was “it could have happened.” So he is a spokesperson for nothing and no one.

        • Elisabeth February 9, 2010, 1:30 PM

          There is a Dutch writer (Jeroen Brouwers) who wrote a novel (already several decades ago) about the experiences of a child in a Japanese internation camp in war-time Indonesia. (Obviously very autobiographical.) He was criticized because he described things that other Dutch survivors of these camps declared not to have been typical of such camps. But it was a novel, and things were described through the eyes of a child. He said “I did not lie, I wrote a novel.”

          I do not know what exactly Elie Wielsel made up, and in which book. Was it presented as fact, in an essay, or as the subjective remembrances of a child in war time in a novel? People read such books as fact, and writers should definitely be aware of this. Jerzy Kosinsky’s ‘Painted bird’ (a book I wished I had never read, by the way) turned out to be largely made up as well. It is a complicated issue.

  • bar_kochba132 February 8, 2010, 8:27 AM

    I have always wondered about your use of the term “pro-Israel” as an epithet, meaning something like “extremist” or “fascist”. Doesn’t J-Street call itself a “pro-Israel” organization (you do approve of them, don’t you)? Would Yossi Beilin (he is okay, isn’t he?) call himself “pro-Israel”?

    • Richard Silverstein February 8, 2010, 12:41 PM

      Read my About page, which explains my usage of the term. I almost always add an adjective to pro Israel to distinguish bet. those like myself who are pro Israel & others who adopt a radical right wing agenda & mislabel it pro Israel (which it is not).

  • mary February 8, 2010, 8:47 AM

    I used to admire Wiesel; his book “Night” was so painful to read that I was in awe of his ability to put such suffering into words. I am vastly disappointed in his lack of humanity now. How can this be the same man who wrote that book? I just can’t square it in my mind.

  • muhammad February 8, 2010, 6:48 PM

    Iranians do not need Dershowitz to shed crocodile tears for them. they can take of themselves. they also do not need a right winger like Voight.

    • mary February 9, 2010, 7:33 AM

      Both Dersh and Voight need to mind their own business. As for Voight, who does he think he is? Why do movie stars like Voight seem to think they have any gravitas in the political world?

  • ali isfahani February 9, 2010, 12:39 AM

    where is the ad?

  • Cborg February 9, 2010, 2:22 PM

    To be clear, this post is not a defense of Iran’s current regime. Anyone who reads this blog knows that it is not my purpose…why not defend the Iranian government? It is the democratically elected government of Iran

    • Richard Silverstein February 9, 2010, 5:52 PM

      I don’t choose to defend a government of thugs & murderers whether it’s Iran or any other similar country.

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