The POSTman Knocks Twice: Elie Wiesel does not need my defense, I do!

Elie Wiesel has done more for our people by forgoing his own permanent physical presence here, and becoming our great spokesman in the world arena.

March 12, 2015 21:44
2 minute read.
Elie Wiesel


Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, attended the joint congressional session at which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke.

A columnist for Haaretz, Roger Alpher, wrote a vicious personal attack on Wiesel. One of his arguments is “You are not even an Israel citizen.”

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There was a time when Wiesel and my family were very close – over several decades. There came a time when our paths drifted apart. Wiesel is the only Jew to whom I ever said, “You should not come to Israel, you will have a greater effect here [abroad].” I do not fool myself that this convinced him. He is ever a free man, if one who has sworn faithfulness to the Jewish people is really free. He engaged in that battle for our people after coming from “another planet,” as he called it. Wiesel has documented much of his life there. He then wrote The Jews of Silence, placing the tragedy of Soviet Jewry squarely in the face of every Jew and every human being.

I have no need to produce my own Zionist and Israeli credentials. Even as a member of the executive of the World Zionist Organization, I said Wiesel’s place was not here. Wiesel in his heart is always here, and as he rubs shoulders with the so-called greats of the world, he is Elie Wiesel from Siget, originally from Judea a few millennia ago.

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He lives in many worlds today, but his soul is on fire with the Torah of his father, the Zionism of his mother. His consciousness streams with our greats from Abraham the Patriarch to some Abraham in Sderot today, and embraces the humble myriads who lived and died as Jews across the centuries.

I am no partisan of Benjamin Netanyahu. That does not give me the right to limit the free choice of another. Elie Wiesel chose to support the prime minister of Israel warning against Iranian stated aspirations to outdo the Holocaust.

Wiesel does not need my defense. He is a unique Jewish spokesman, head and shoulders above all others of the Diaspora in the post-1945 world. He made the world feel the pain of the Holocaust.

He opened its eyes to the reality and dreams of Soviet Jewry.

As a Zionist and an Israeli, paterfamilias of three generations who live here, it is I who need to speak out. Every human being has the right to believe what he wishes. Every Jew has the right to choose where to live and how to live. And Elie Wiesel, like all of us, may choose to support whom he wants as he wants.

My own morality forces me to speak out. Elie Wiesel has done more for our people by forgoing his own permanent physical presence here, and becoming our great spokesman in the world arena.

It is I who need to say that.

Avraham Avi-hai has lived in Israel for more than six decades, and served in senior capacities in the government, the Jewish Agency and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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