On Elie Wiesel, Idolatry, and the State

Elie Wiesel died. I’m sad about it. I liked certain things about Wiesel, and I disliked other things. I see the word going around now that some guy named Max Blumenthal who is the son of some of other Clinton-sniffer named Sidney Blumenthal, who are both Jewish…Max does not like Elie Wiesel and tweeted that at the end of his life he supported those who commit war crimes. He’s referring to Jewish “ethnic cleansing” and “settlers” and whatnot, and all the other trifling nonsense that equates homesteading vacant land with “war crimes”. But nevermind that. That’s nonsense, but I still appreciate Max for cutting through the worship of supposedly infallible people.

Now, I’m no fan of Max Blumenthal or virtually anyone who has any dealings with the sleazy Clintons. From the little I read about him he’s your average shallow thinking stereotypical left winger. But I still consider his comments heroic because deifying any person to the point where he can do no wrong and anything he says is right, is very dangerous and the essence of Avoda Zara, or idol worship.

I read some of Wiesel’s books when I was a kid. I definitely remember reading Night. He was a good writer and his works will live on. But unlike most Jews who base their Jewish identity on the Holocaust, I don’t consider him a role model at all. Wiesel was knee deep in the State infrastructure, and served as part of its intellectual guard, most notably justifying the various wars of the US government against the world, including the invasion of Iraq, which is now ISIS and the next excuse to invade the next country in the “war on terror”. He took pictures with president this and that, visited with a whole bunch of state leaders all the time, and generally approved of what they do as long as they were Western.

Wiesel was a good writer and a good speaker who did not understand that the source of the holocaust was not anti Semitism. Anti Semitism was only the excuse. The cause was the institution of the State which keeps a monopoly on violence.

The danger of deifying a person is that all of his positions come in packages. To criticize is illegitimate. To say he was wrong about some things takes you out of the realm of discussion. Max Blumenthal may be an idiot, but at least he has the courage to criticize a person that everybody else refuses to touch.

Lots of people say things like “Let’s not speak ill of the dead.” I don’t hold by that. When everyone is saying the same thing nobody is thinking. The truth is, there were good things about Wiesel and bad things about Wiesel. He did, in a sense, support the war crimes that he was a victim of. Not because he supported the “ethnic cleansing” of East Jerusalem which basically means supporting Jewish purchase of Arab property, which is absolutely legitimate, but he did support unjust wars against innocent people. Are the atrocities in Iraq on the same quantitative level as the holocaust? No. But add in Vietnam and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Korean War and Granada and the Philippines and every other place that the US government has invaded in the last century and a half or so, the numbers get pretty close.

It is especially important to criticize when everyone else is praising, just to help people remember that nobody should emulate anybody entirely. If you are an aspiring writer, you can learn from Wiesel. If you want to learn how to deal with tragedy and loss, his life is an example.

If you want to learn how to stop the next holocaust, Wiesel is not your man. He had good and bad, and to a degree, Max is right, but for mostly the wrong reasons.

May the good parts of his life be for a blessing, and his mistakes pointed out so they will not be repeated.




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