Boteach: Reaction to Wiesel ad calling for tougher Iran stance ‘overwhelmingly positive’

Nobel Prize laureate urges US Congress, Obama to be more firm in negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

December 22, 2013 05:30
2 minute read.
Elie Wiesel.

Elie Wiesel making a fist 370. (photo credit: Reuters)


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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.

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“We’re 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 Taglit-Birthright.

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.”

“I believe 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 his message.”

“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.”

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