Elie Wiesel and the Palestinians

When the news of Elie Wiesel’s passing broke, it immediately became clear that the Jew-hatred he had fought all his life remains a powerful poison. Professional anti-Israel activists who claim to be “pro-Palestinian” didn’t miss a beat to illustrate once again that their fervent anti-Zionism is deeply intertwined with anti-Semitism.

Max Blumenthal, who grew up comfortably as the son of a well-connected Washington insider to become the author of screeds equating Israel with Nazi Germany and glorifying Hamas, rushed to opine on Twitter that “Elie Wiesel went from a victim of war crimes to a supporter of those who commit them. He did more harm than good and should not be honored.” It’s clear enough what Blumenthal implied here: the genocide of Europe’s Jews perpetrated by the Nazis was just a war crime like the ones Israel is now committing against the Palestinians. More than 500 of Blumenthal’s followers thought this was worth a re-tweet and an even larger number felt that this statement deserved a heart-felt “Like”.

Blumenthal’s friend and fellow-Israel-hater Ali Abunimah had announced previously that he was taking a few days off from “working,” but it’s safe to assume that upon hearing the news of Wiesel’s death, Abunimah regarded posting a torrent of abuse not as work, but as pleasure. As you can see from the screenshot below, hundreds of Abunimah’s followers eagerly amplified his vilification.

AA on Elie Wiesel death

When you follow the link Abunimah provided for his accusation that Wiesel “helped Israel demonize Palestinian children,” you will find a CNN report entitled “Nobel laureate Wiesel: Hamas must stop using children as human shields.” According to the report, Wiesel denounced Hamas as a “death cult” in an ad campaign, where he also wrote:

“Do the two cultures that brought us the Psalms of David and the rich libraries of the Ottoman Empire not share a love of life, of transmitting wisdom and opportunity to their children? And is any of this discernible in the dark future offered by Hamas to Arab children, to be suicide bombers or human shields for rockets?

Palestinian parents want a hopeful future for their children, just like Israeli parents do. And both should be joining together in peace.”

That’s what Elie-Wiesel-style “demonization” of Palestinian children looks like… What Abunimah may have meant was that Wiesel helped Israel “demonize” Hamas – and this is doubtlessly painful for an ardent Hamas supporter like Abunimah.

But while it is only to be expected that Hamas supporters would loathe Wiesel, it seems that also some others forgot all about the genocidal anti-Semitism that is so central to the charter of the terror group, which (along with similar groups like Islamic Jihad) commands considerable support among Palestinians. Thus, Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan complained to his over 260 000 Twitter followers repeatedly that Wiesel had ignored the human rights of the Palestinians, stating in one particularly popular tweet: “Poor old Palestinians – only people whose human rights you can ignore/undermine and still get called a human rights champion when you die.”

This would be the same Mehdi Hasan who wrote in 2013:

“It pains me to have to admit this but anti-Semitism isn’t just tolerated in some sections of the British Muslim community; it’s routine and commonplace. … It’s our dirty little secret. You could call it the banality of Muslim anti-Semitism.”

And only recently, Hasan challenged former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad “on his history of anti-Semitic remarks.”

Maybe it’s time Hasan did a segment (or perhaps a series) on Palestinian anti-Semitism. There is plenty of material – not just the many odious statements in the Hamas Charter, but also the incessant demonization and the incitement to kill Jews, spewed forth regularly by Palestinians preachers, people in the media, and officials: here is just one tiny sample of literally thousands of similar documented examples; and here are just a few examples of Palestinians – from officials to children – denouncing Jews as “apes” and “pigs”. Why should Elie Wiesel, who suffered the consequences of a very similar dehumanization of Jews, be expected to speak up for people who built a society where expressing this kind of Jew-hatred is an unremarkable feature of daily life, and where acting on this hatred is glorified – whether it’s stabbing a 13-year-old girl sleeping in her bed at home to death, or hacking a Holocaust survivor to death with an axe?

And not coincidentally, the Palestinian President quite literally has “a PhD in Holocaust denial;” and not coincidentally, he recently “veered into explicit anti-Semitism” when he spiced up an address to the European Parliament with a new version of the medieval blood-libel – hardly surprising in view of his “long track record of anti-Semitic utterances.” And then there is of course the fact that Abbas and other Palestinian officials have repeatedly paid homage to Haj Amin al-Husseini, also known as “Hitler’s mufti.”

But all this is something that the people who rushed to accuse Elie Wiesel of ignoring the Palestinians prefer to ignore.

About the Author
Petra Marquardt-Bigman is a politically homeless lapsed leftist who can’t get used to living in a time when the Nazi slogan “The Jews are our misfortune” is considered quite acceptable in its 21st century version “The Jewish state is our misfortune.” She therefore writes mostly about antisemitism, anti-Israel activism and BDS, i.e. Bigoted Double Standards. She grew up in Germany and has a Ph.D. in contemporary history.
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