Must-read for non-hypocrites: an open letter to Elie Wiesel in response to his urging President Obama not to “pressure” Israel into stopping Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem (the latest stage being the eviction of Arab residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which has led to a protest vigil).
Wiesel maintained that Jerusalem, the most politicized city in the world, is “above politics” by virtue of its holiness — an argument that looks and smells like what it is: a steaming pile of holy s**t.
Fortunately, the Israeli writers of this open letter, among them political scientists and Israel Prize laureates Avishai Margalit and Zeev Sternhell (who not long ago survived attempted assassination by a fundamentalist Jewish settler), put it rather more elegantly.
“We cannot recognize our city in the sentimental abstraction you call by its name,” they say. To claim that Jerusalem is “above politics” is outrageous. “Being above politics is being devoid of the power to shape the reality of one’s life. We cannot stand by and watch our city… being used as a springboard for crafty politicians and sentimental populists who claim that Jerusalem is above politics and negotiation, while all the while frantically ‘Judaizing’ East Jerusalem in order to transform its geopolitics beyond recognition….
“We who live in Jerusalem can no longer be sacrificed for the fantasies of those who love our city from afar. Jerusalem must be shared by the people of the two nations residing in it. Only a shared city will live up to the prophetic vision ‘Zion shall be redeemed with justice.’ As we chant weekly in our vigils in Sheikh Jarrah, ‘nothing can be holy in an occupied city!’”
To which, as a former Jerusalemite, I’d say ‘Amen,’ and add this:
When he was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, Wiesel was cited for his “practical efforts in the path of peace” and for his “powerful message of peace, atonement, and human dignity.” If it was unclear exactly what he’d done for peace, people kept quiet(ish) about it. Now that it’s crystal clear what he’s doing against peace, it’s way past time for the Nobel Committee to demand their prize back.