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Guilt-Edged Tale

A contemporary crime awakens historical memory.

Jul 5, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 40 • By ABBY WISSE SCHACHTER
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Wiesel provided his own answer, and delivered his verdict much more powerfully, in his recently published full-page advertisement about the Jews’ eternal capital than in the novel. As Wiesel declared, following President Obama’s very public rebuke of Israeli building plans in Jerusalem, “The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory. .  .  . It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another. .  .  . Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.”

The difficulty with being the living embodiment of modern Jewish memory is that you can overstep your boundaries. After publishing his plea for Jerusalem, the administration reached out to Wiesel in an effort to fix its image problem with American Jews. President Obama invited Wiesel to lunch, and the two Nobel laureates were photographed eating a kosher meal together. Wiesel was right to agree to the meeting, but he went beyond his role when, afterwards, he pronounced all tensions dissolved between the Jews and the administration. 

It is not for Elie Wiesel to pass judgment on serious policy differences between Israel and the Obama administration, nor is it his role to “decide” that American Jews have nothing to worry about with this president. It was more than enough for him to seize the mantle of conscience.

Abby Wisse Schachter is an associate editor at the New York Post.

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