Mourning Elie Wiesel

The writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie wiesel died in New York on Saturday, aged 87. He survived the concentration camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald and dedicated his adult life to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. Commentators praise Wiesel for his exemplary commitment to his cause but criticise his stance vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

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The Independent (GB) /

Indifferent to Palestinians

Amidst all the tributes to Elie Wiesel's lifework the obituaries should not omit the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize laureate also had his faults:

“If you disagreed with Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, if you believed that a people who had suffered so much should understand the miseries they were inflicting on another people, then you would not appreciate Wiesel and his blind spot towards the Palestinians. He fought for the rights of the oppressed and persecuted elsewhere in the world - the Soviet Jews, the Bosnians and Kosovans in the former Yugoslavia, and the victims of the Rwandan genocide. Constantly, he warned of the abyss into which racism might lead us. But he seemed indifferent to the plight of the people next door to Israel, under effective occupation, the rump territory allotted to them eroded by settlements, their rights as a state denied to them.”

Contributors (RO) /

A vital admonisher

Wiesel never tired of reminding the world of the horrors of the Holocaust, political scientist Vladimir Tismaneanu writes in Contributors:

“He knew the meaning of agony, pain, and sadness. He lost his family in the Holocaust, and survived to bear witness. ... He wrote a novel about the Night of the Murdered Poets after Stalin and his clique organised a mock trial against the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. He made the preservation of memory an unconditional duty. In 2003 he presided over an international committee examinig the Holocaust in Romania. An institute that took over this task now bears his name. ... As a defender of all the persecuted, as an increasingly rare type of humanist, he won the Nobel Peace Prize [in 1986]. He deserved it. May he rest in peace. Humanity will be forever in his debt.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Wiesel's vital message

Elie Wiesel died on a weekend when terror attacks claimed over a hundred lives in Bangladesh and Iraq. In this context the words of people who have witnessed atrocities are particularly important, La Libre Belgique stresses:

“The death of Elie Wiesel is an immeasurable loss. He dedicated his life to ensuring that the unspeakable testimony of the Shoah would remain in people's memory. Ever since the publication of [his autobiographical novel] Night in 1958, he warned of the dangers posed by all brands of extremism, nationalism, and racism - and of course by anti-Semitism. At a time when such despicable attitudes are becoming more prevalent, the testimonies of those who witnessed genocide must be perpetuated. More than ever. Forever. France has lost a great man, acclaimed by leftists, centrists and conservatives alike.”