NEW YORK – A full-page ad that Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel took out in The
New York Times on Wednesday, and in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, calls
for the US Congress and US President Barack Obama to take a tougher stance in
negotiations with Iran.
So far, the ad has received an “overwhelmingly
positive” reaction, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach told The Jerusalem Post.
getting a flood of phone calls from other papers and Jewish organizations asking
to republish it, even without [our organization] paying for it,” Boteach said,
adding that it will be appearing in the Dallas Morning News and has been picked
up by Israel Hayom and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We’ve even heard from
people involved in the issue at the highest level. They’ve reached out to us and
expressed their thanks.”
The copy of the ad was written entirely by
Wiesel, and edited by Wiesel’s wife and son. The sentiments expressed are
entirely Wiesel’s own, Boteach said.
Boteach is one of the co-founders of
The World: The Values Network, and sponsored the ad with Michael Steinhart, the
other co-founder of The World: The Values Network and one of the co-founders of
At the time when Boteach and Wiesel were discussing
their idea for taking out the ad, Obama had just reinstated negotiations at a
presidential level with his phone call to Rouhani after the UN General Assembly.
But, Boteach emphasized, “This is not an anti-Obama message.”
the president is well-intentioned, and is trying to stop Iran’s proliferation of
nuclear weapons,” Boteach said. “I truly believe that his intention is to
protect the civilized world from Iran, but I personally completely disagree with
“This is a government whose stated intention is the
annihilation of six million Jews living in Israel,” Boteach said, adding that
the timing of the ad’s placement couldn’t have been better. On Thursday, Sen.
Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, introduced a bill in Congress that
would toughen up US sanctions against Iran should Iran fail to comply with the
six-month interim agreement.
The ad’s genesis began three months ago when
Boteach brought Wiesel and Rwandan president Paul Kagame – two people who
Boteach called “the two biggest names in genocide’s memory” – together for a
discussion in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
After that summit, which
included Miri and Sheldon Adelson and Michael and Judy Steinhart, the founders
of Taglit-Birthright, Boteach and Wiesel began to speak about taking out an ad
in major publications to call out “the genocidal intent of Iran” and highlight
its human rights abuses, Boteach recalled.
Between the Obama-Rouhani
phone call and Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Khamenei calling for Adelson’s
head to be crushed following Adelson’s controversial statements at Yeshiva
University in October, Boteach said Wiesel “graciously agreed” to go forward
with the ad.
Wiesel could not be reached for comment, but Boteach assured
the Post that “Wiesel has said everything he wants to say in the ad.”