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Wiesel Says Idea That Jew Can Be a Jew Only in Israel is Harmful

May 5, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

“He who says Jew in Israel is better than a Jew in Russia or America or Iraq does nothing but divide our people, and harms it more than some of our enemies.” This contention will be expressed tonight by Elie Wiesel at the 66th annual dinner of the American Jewish Committee where he is to accept the organization’s highest award, the American Liberties Medallion.

According to an advance summary of his address, the noted author rejects the idea that Jewish leaders from other countries ought to emigrate to Israel. Referring to the heated controversy at the final session of the World Zionist Congress last Jan. when a resolution was adopted, and subsequently declared unconstitutional, calling for Jewish leaders to make aliya, Wiesel states: “A Jew can be Jewish everywhere, not only in Israel, providing he claims kinship with the totality of his people’s experience.”


Discussing the situation in the Middle East. Wiesel is scheduled to urge the AJCommittee to establish “an international committee composed entirely of Holocaust survivors.” declaring that these survivors, who had been uprooted from their homelands and forced to rebuild their lives. are uniquely qualified to comprehend and handle the problems caused by the uprooting of the Arab population in Israel.

At the same time, he stressed that he does not equate the Holocaust and its victims with any of today’s upheavals and their concomitant population displacements. “Those who compare the Holocaust with any current situation anywhere–in Vietnam or Bangladesh or Harlem–are guilty of distortion bordering on obscenity,” he states. “The Holocaust was a unique event defying all parallels….”

Referring to President Nixon’s trip this month to the Soviet Union. Wiesel states that Nixon “should bring to the attention of the Soviet leaders the fact that no other issue today, except for the security of Israel, mobilizes the American Jewish community in its entirety as does the issue of Soviet Jewry.” Continuing, he states that it is “only normal for us to hope that when he (Nixon) meets the leaders of Soviet Russia, he would become our messenger and plead with them” to allow all Soviet Jews to be reunited with their families in Israel and to free the Jewish prisoners.

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