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Despite his unquestionable moral force, there have been those who have pointed out that Elie Wiesel’s record of compassion faltered when it came to justice for the Palestinian people.
He was on record supporting the settlements that have taken over Palestinian land in the occupied territories and also in failing to publicly criticize Israel’s human rights violations.
In this segment from the extended interview with Ariel Burger, Francesca asks Burger about Wiesel’s stance toward Palestinian rights and he responds.
After the interview was recorded, Ariel Burger wrote Francesca the following about Wiesel’s work on behalf of victims of other genocides and mass murders, above all in Darfur.
Listen to the podcast interview here.
You know of EW’s work over the years to call attention to genocide and mass murder in many parts of the world. When I was with him in class, in 2003-2008, he was particularly focused on Darfur. He shared his frustration that the world wasn’t doing more, and he told his class that he was trying to persuade the UN to post a daily death toll in Darfur, as a way of galvanizing support. The UN declined.
He also shared with us that he was working hard to persuade both the UN and the US government to name what was happening, to use the term “genocide”. This succeeded — [a] UN resolution…referred to genocide in Darfur, and Colin Powell used that language as well. This led to the first ever indictment of a sitting president (al Bashir of Sudan), though he wasn’t arrested.
EW’s efforts also led to the Save Darfur campaign, which, interestingly, was spearheaded by Jewish and Armenian groups (both groups knew what it was like to experience oppression and the world’s silence). This is all an example of the window we students had into his international efforts to make a difference.