Friday, 7 May 2010

How Wiesel saved Jerusalem

Wiesel said his recent full-page ad in several major newspapers here and in Israel extolling Jerusalem was written as "a declaration of love." In the ad, he wrote that "for me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics.

"I felt the need," he said, adding that he was not asked to compose the ad, and did not coordinate it with anyone else. (Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, published full-page ads in some of the same newspapers that week critical of Obama's recent treatment of Israel.)

Wiesel pointed out that his Jerusalem statement was "not a letter to, or against, the president, and was not a political act" but rather a personal tribute to the history of the holy city and its deep ties to the Jewish people.

But the letter asserted that "pressure will not produce a solution" and that it would be a mistake to "tackle" the future of Jerusalem first in peace talks. "Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue," he wrote, for a time when some trust had been established between the Israeli and Palestinian people?

Wiesel said he wrote that because he had heard, while visiting Israel during Passover, that the U.S. planned to have the two parties deal with Jerusalem first when they resumed talks.

"It worked," he said with a smile, saying the White House reassured him that would not be the case.

Now, a readers' contest: How many times - in this very short portion of the interview - Wiesel isn't being, well, totally honest?

I counted four.

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