Posted by: University of Mississippi | February 9, 2010

Who is Elie Wiesel?

A Segregationist?

Chancellor Dan Brown issued a statement last fall explaining why “Dixie” was to be cut from the marching band’s playlist.  He wrote:  “Let me be clear, all the leaders of this vibrant, diverse, modern university long ago denounced any association with those who espouse segregation.” If Brown is serious about this claim, he should seriously consider canceling this year’s Spring Convocation speaker, Elie Wiesel.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who read Night in high school, you may not have heard much about the rest of this author’s personal history. If not, you should know that Night is Wiesel’s self-proclaimed autobiographical tale of his survival in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII.

Wiesel’s moral sermons often come across as beautiful statements of righteousness.  Unfortunately, Wiesel’s commitment to human rights is about as real as Heidi Montag’s new smile.  Consider two of Wiesel’s most famous moral declarations: “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference,” and “silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  According to these principles, everyone has a moral obligation to fight ethnic persecution, regardless of where it occurs. 

Now compare “silence encourages the tormentor” to the following statement in Wiesel’s personal memoir, And the Sea is Ever Full: “…since I do not live in Israel, it would be irresponsible for me to [take a public stand in the conflict].”  

Similarly, Wiesel once publicly stated, “I support Israel—period. I identify with Israel—period.  I never attack, I never criticize Israel when I am not in Israel.”  According to Wiesel’s logic, one should only criticize a government’s policies from within the particular government’s jurisdiction.

This convenient little rule never stopped Elie from criticizing the governments of South Africa, Cambodia, Iraq, Nicaragua, or the U.S.  The truth is that it makes no difference whether Wiesel is in the United States or Israel or Timbuktu.  He remains wholly uncritical of Israel’s government due to the unconditional loyalty he feels towards his particular religious group.  

Consider Wiesel’s statement about the potential for resolving the Palestine/Israel Conflict: “Israel will cooperate, I am sure of that. I trust Israel for I have faith in the Jewish people.”  The international community sees it differently.  Human rights groups and UN delegations have consistently found Israel to be in violation of all sorts of human rights laws in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

No population is to be trusted with ultimate moral superiority.  Any such unconditional allegiance to one’s ethnic or religious group produces the same outdated, supremacist attitudes that Chancellor Brown seeks to eradicate from campus.

I suggest taking a closer look at Wiesel’s past before we devote a Monday evening to his lecture.

From 1947-1949, Wiesel was employed by the Irgun, the paramilitary group of extreme right-wing Zionists.  In 1948, Jewish-American icons Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, and Sydney Hook (among others) composed a letter to the New York Times that refers to the Irgun as “the terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.”  

Look up “Deir Yassin” or “Sabra and Shatilla Massacre” and decide for yourself if Wiesel should remain silent about his involvement in the Irgun.

1948 was also the year of the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe,” when more than 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed or forcibly evacuated by Israeli forces.  More than 700,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes.  Zionists literally “cleansed” the land of Palestinian Arabs to make room for Jewish settlements.  To this day the Palestinian refugees are prohibited from returning to the Israel/Palestine region. 

On the other hand, Wiesel is a staunch supporter of the Israeli law that allows for any Jew, “…a child [or] a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew [or] the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew,” to immigrate and settle in Israel as a full-fledged citizen.

Wiesel uses the rhetoric of pacifism and human rights activism to support the segregationist political agenda of far-right Jewish Israelis.  MIT professor Noam Chomsky, the most frequently cited scholar alive, calls Wiesel “a terrible fraud.”  Norman Finkelstein, the Jewish-American son of two Holocaust survivors, wrote a bestselling novel entitled The Holocaust Industry, in which Wiesel is the antihero.  Finkelstein recounts how Wiesel and others have exploited the suffering of Jewish people in the Nazi Holocaust in order to advance Israel’s agenda in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Consider the way Wiesel perceives the Ole Miss student body.  He believes that any Jewish student at the University should be free to move to Israel, settle there, and become an Israeli citizen.  If you happen to be a Palestinian-American Rebel, on the other hand, Wiesel thinks you should be prohibited from moving to Palestine or Israel.  It doesn’t matter where you grew up, where your parents were born, or what you intend to accomplish in your lifetime.  Your ethnicity restricts your opportunities. 

Here at Ole Miss, we frown on that sort of segregationist mindset.  Don’t we, Chancellor Brown? Don’t we, Ole Miss?

For more information, check out the following websites:


  1. I attended “An Evening With Elie Wiesel” last night and was interested in what he had to say, knowing his experience is quite different than most. Do you know what his views on abortion are? Considering his strong beliefs on human rights to live and not be murdered, I would think he would be pro-life. I wish I had asked him this question. Now it’s too late…
    Thanks for your information/opinion.
    Lacey Lewis

  2. Glad to see that some Ole Miss students are willing to hear dissident voices. I got “banned” from Ole Miss alumnus Tom Freeland’s blog site–Northmisscommentor– for daring to question the “official” version of historical events of WWII.

    And I’m not surprised that UM graduate James Barksdale sponsored this poseur, Elie Wiesel. Barksdale sits on the board of several corporations and at one time was a member of George Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board–an insider group dedicated to planning and waging pre-emptive wars in the Middle East and Africa. Barksdale “schmoozes” with CFRers and Neo-Con members who were involved in the fabrication of lies that led to the invasion of Iraq.

    Barksdale also co-chaired with Zoe Baird, the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age–a Neo-Con “Think Tank.”

    Makes one wonder what plans UM’s Barksdale and MSU’s Richard Adkerson have for Central Congo where all that Coltan metal is found. Coltan is a precious metal that is coveted by the telecom industry and Bill Gates is already in Rwanda scmoozing with genocidaire Paul Kagame. Much of the metal is found in Congo where Kagame and his troops are terrorizing and looting.

    Btw, Wiesel is circulating a petition–already signed by over 50 Nobel laureates–calling for a Final Solution to the Iran problem–invasion and occupation.

    Hold Barksdale’s feet to the fire.


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