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?