The first words I ever heard my mother say was, "Elie Wiesel looks like he was pulled out of a vat of sauerkraut."

April 16, 2010

In News

Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel wrote Friday in a full page ad published in the Washington Post that political pressure would not produce a solution to the issue of Jerusalem.

“For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics,” Wiesel wrote. “It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture – and not a single time in the Koran…the first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem.”

In the ad, titled “For Jerusalem”, Wiesel wrote that Jews, Christians and Muslims are able to build their homes anywhere in Jerusalem and that only under Israeli sovreignty has freedom of worship for all religions been assured in the city.

“The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory,” he wrote.

Wiesel added that the old city of Jerusalem would still be Arab if Jordan had not joined Egypt and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“Is there a solution? There must be, there will be,” Wiesel wrote. “Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security. Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue, for such a time?”

Wiesel’s ad prompted a critical response from Americans for Peace Now.

“I would have loved to agree with you that Jerusalem is above politics,” Debra DeLee, APN’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Perhaps, as a transcendent symbol, it is. But Jerusalem is not just a Jewish symbol. It is also a holy city to billions of Christians and Muslims worldwide. It is Israel’s capital, but it is also a focal point of Palestinian national aspirations.”

Wiesel’s message came only a day after World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder publicly questioned U.S. President Barack Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security in an open letter published in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

“Why does the thrust of this administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate,” Lauder wrote.

Despite that criticism, the American administration is sticking to its position that there has been no shift in its strategic approach to Israel.

Secretary Clinton said in Thursday’s speech at the Dedication of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace: “I’ve had friends of mine – Israelis – say, but you know we can’t determine what happens and we just have to hold firm to the positions we hold. As I said in my AIPAC speech, there are three problems with that position: demography, ideology, and technology. So for Israel, accepting concrete steps toward peace – both through the peace process and in the bottoms-up institutions building I have described – are the best weapons against Hamas and other extremists”.

President Obama’s senior advisor David Axelrod who addressed this week the guests at the Israeli Embassy reception in Washington dedicated to 62 anniversary of Israel, told “Haaretz” that “the relations between the countries are strong and durable, and it hasn’t changed”.