Elie Wiesel’s Ignoble Recruits

Nobel Laureates Sign On To “Harsher” Iran Sanctions – and More

Is there nothing that is safe from debasement by the propaganda machine of the U.S. and Israel? A full-page ad in the Sunday NYT of February 7 provides the answer. Sponsored by Elie Wiesel’s modestly named “The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity,” and signed by 44 Nobel Laureates, 35 of them in the physical sciences, it urges brutal and lethal actions against Iran.

Before getting to the cruel prescriptions, which Wiesel and his recruits offer for Iran, let us consider their reasoning such as it is. In a single brief topic sentence they assert their central claim that the Iranian government “whose irresponsible and senseless nuclear ambitions threaten the entire world continues to wage a shameless war against its own people.” Two charges are fired off in this brief sentence, and it is all too easy to conflate them. So let us take them one at a time, as is the habit in science when one wishes for clarification.

The first charge deals with Iran’s nuclear “ambitions,” but the ad does not say what these ambitions are. And then it asserts without evidence that such “ambitions” threaten “the entire world.” This is certainly a very grave charge, and some scintilla of evidence should be offered for it. But none is provided, not one word, not even a footnote or reference in this spacious advert. Yes, such allegations are made repeatedly and vehemently by government figures in Tel Aviv and Washington and by many segments of the US and Israeli press. But what is the evidence for these allegations? Many of them turn out to be false as exemplified by a recent AP story, which was pulled after being exposed on Antiwar.com by Jason Ditz. Many of the same voices which now warn that Iran is a nuclear threat “to the entire world” assured us not long ago that Saddam Hussein was connected to Al Qaeda and that he had weapons of mass destruction, both of which turned out to be shameless lies. And is it not strange that Russia and China, so proximate to Iran, are not obsessed, as is the U.S. about this threat to “the entire world”? The signatories of the ad ought not to make such intemperate and incendiary assertions without at least a reference to unimpeachable evidence. No such reference is provided. Is this the proper standard of thought and reason, which a Nobel in the physical sciences implies?

The second claim wrapped up in the topic sentence is that the Iranian government is engaging in a “shameless war on its own people.” This too is quite a striking charge, going far beyond the usual charge that the recent Iranian elections were rigged which in fact does not appear to be the case. In what does this “shameless war” consist. Certainly there are human rights abuses and striking ones in Iran, just as there are in many countries who are US allies, but that does not amount to a government’s “war on its own people.” The U.S. and Israel make charges against Iran almost daily, and so Iran is certain to be demonized in our elite press which so often functions as stenographer for the government. The same media treatment was given Iraq so very recently, and it is amazing that this fact did not deter the signatories from the intemperate statements in this ad. Earlier under the presidency of Bush I we were treated to stories of infants being pulled from incubators and discarded on hospital floors in Kuwait by Iraqi troops during the run up to the US attack on Iraq in the first Gulf War. These charges uttered by Bush I himself were lies, concocted by a P.R. firm, as we later learned.

Given that there are human rights abuses in Iran, although we do not know their extent, two questions arise. Who are we to criticize Iran when our own government has been abducting, secretly detaining and torturing people all over the planet? Historically, the CIA overthrew the duly elected Iranian government of Mossadegh in the 1950s and installed the Shah whose brutality was legendary and who was eventually ousted in 1979. Today the CIA is still engaging in “extraordinary renditions” under Obama as it did under Bush and probably before. And Israel is equally guilty of crimes against humanity with the Apartheid order it is imposing in the occupied territories, as Jimmy Carter demonstrated in his recent book, this being the most egregious of human rights violations since it is based on ethnicity.

Now let us turn to the vicious prescriptions called for by Wiesel and his recruits. They first call for “harsher sanctions,” without any mention of restrictions on such sanctions. We already know that sanctions as practiced by the U.S. are a recipe for massive death and destruction. We know what the years of sanctions did to Iraq under the presidencies of Clinton and Bush II. When Madeleine Albright was informed in a notorious TV interview that 500,000 Iraqi children had died due to those sanctions, she did not deny it but replied: “This is a very hard choice, but … we think the price is worth it.” Do the signers of this ad agree with Albright’s assessment in the case of Iraq and now Iran? Sanctions are far from harmless and they fall hardest on the helpless and rarely on the powerful. In 2000 Christian Aid stated:

The immediate consequence of eight years of sanctions has been a dramatic fall in living standards, the collapse of the infrastructure, and a serious decline in the availability of public services. The longer-term damage to the fabric of society has yet to be assessed but economic disruption has already led to heightened levels of crime, corruption and violence. Competition for increasingly scarce resources has allowed the Iraqi state to use clan and sectarian rivalries to maintain its control, further fragmenting Iraqi society.

And yet Wiesel’s recruits call for sanctions almost casually. They would do well to read Brian Cloughey’s essay on “The Evil of Sanctions,” and the sources to which he refers.

But Wiesel’s recruits do not stop there. They go on to call for “concrete measures” to protect the “new nation of dissidents in Iran.” But these concrete measures are not spelled out. What could they be? There are only two that appear on the lips of those who are demonizing Iran these days in Tel Aviv and Washington: “sanctions” and “war.” This ad will certainly be used by those who wish to attack Iran, as Israel has threatened. Do the signers understand this? Since they are intelligent men and women, they must. Are they then calling for war?

In signing onto Wiesel’s statement, the Laureates have put themselves in very questionable company. Although he claims to speak out for “human rights,” Wiesel is very selective in the cases he chooses. He has not and will not criticize Israel and its Apartheid policies, and in fact attacks those who do. In an interview with Haaretz wherein Wiesel announced his ad campaign, he “blasted Judge Richard Goldstone, saying his report on the Israeli offensive in Gaza was “a crime against the Jewish people.” Goldstone’s report is in fact quite mild, but it makes clear that the crimes of Israel against the Palestinians of Gaza are atrocities much like those in Sabra and Shatilla years ago. Do Wiesel’s recruits know that his view of human rights is quite selective?

One cannot know the motives that drove Wiesel’s recruits to sign such a thoughtless and cruel document. Certainly the document reflects the wave of propaganda on Iran to which we are all subjected. But that is no excuse. These are after all intelligent men and women and should see through such propaganda, given our recent and historical experience. Certainly this writer holds many of these signers in great regard, and one can only hope that their signatures were obtained without time to examine the matter properly. In this case a retraction is in order. Finally, one cannot help but wonder whether Wiesel’s recruits felt that signing on to such a statement would be fine now that Obama is in charge and he is a man they can trust. If so, this is another sign of the gift to the Empire that is Obama.

In the end Wiesel’s signers, Nobel Laureates though they may be, are of small stature next to those giants of science, humanitarians as well as thinkers, who were unafraid to take on authority in their work and in their role as citizens. Einstein and Galileo and many others must be tossing in their tombs over Wiesel’s handiwork.

John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..

12 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. bozh said on February 16th, 2010 at 9:32am #

    How many of these nobel laureates where made in uganda, nepal, venezuela, korea and how many in US, UK,italy?

    If US and assorted fascists can manufacture consent for killing innocent children, they can with much greater ease manufacture nobelists.
    I wonder if it wld not be better to call these nobelists just inventors; in the employ of other rich facsists?
    OK, whatever! But to me, they are fascists or neonazis! tnx

  2. kalidas said on February 16th, 2010 at 9:39am #

    If anything, Elie the Wiesel should have won half a dozen Hugo awards by now.
    With maybe a Merlin or two thrown in.

  3. commoner3 said on February 16th, 2010 at 2:09pm #

    The hypocrisy and self delusion of that Eli the “Weasel”, really boggle the mind.!!

  4. Ismail Zayid said on February 16th, 2010 at 5:24pm #

    We are told by Eli Wiesel and his 44 recruits that Iran’s “nuclear ambitions” threaten the entire world. So we are to understand that Iran may be thinking about acquiring nuclear weapons and that is a threat to the entire world. However, it appears that Israel’s nuclear arsenal, existing for decades, escapes mere mention. But Iran is clearly not allowed to mere thinking about nuclear weapons, if it is at all thinking about that.

    Furthermore, as John Walsh clearly points out, the charges against Iran for the violation of human rights of its own people are to be condemned and punished as demanded by Wiesel and his group, but, evidently, Israel is perfectly entitled to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people, in the most vicious way. These brutal violations are war crimes and are confirmed and condemned by all international and Israeli human rights groups. Yet, they do not deseve a mention by this group whose selective concern for human rights attests to their bias which threatens the peace in the Middle East and the world at large.

    In summation, evidently, Wiesel and his 44 recruits believe that Israel is above international law, and no one is allowed to criticise its policies.

  5. Straightshooter said on February 16th, 2010 at 6:46pm #

    Meanwhile, Israel – the only country in the entire region occupying ethnically cleansing its neighbors’ lands – sits on over 200 nuclear warheads with advanced missiles capable of delivering them anywhere in the region and far beyond. (Israel threatened to use its nuclear weapons during the 1973 war unless the US replaced the weaponry destroyed by Egypt in the Sinai, i.e., nuclear blackmail. Nixon complied with a massive air lift.) Israel also refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and will not permit inspections at its Dimona nuclear site. Consequences: the US continues to give Israel nearly $10 million in unconditional aid each and every day, 365 days a year and repeatedly vetoes UN Security Council resolutions condeming its occupations and crimes against humanity/war crimes. HYPROCRISY BEYOND WORDS!!

  6. ross51 said on February 16th, 2010 at 8:02pm #

    I was with you wholeheartedly until I reached, “the usual charge that the recent Iranian elections were rigged which in fact does not appear to be the case” and then a bit further down, “Who are we to criticize Iran . . . ?”

    Considering how the returns came in and the refusal for a recount, one can rest assured the vote was rigged. That they might have won without rigging the vote is immaterial.

    But it is the latter statement that bothers the most. Who are we to criticize Iran? Are you joking? We should criticize any and all counties that abuse the rights of their citizens or others. That the US committed crimes against Iran in the past does not absolve Iran of human rights violations in the present. That the US’s present-day policies toward Iran may also be lacking does not give Iran a free-pass on anything.

  7. Hue Longer said on February 16th, 2010 at 9:03pm #

    Hello Ross,

    Like “women are being oppressed in Afghanistan”, the care (however real) is being used to help reach ends that when met, all the care in the world will not be able to fix the new fire. But just like Iran’s oppressed (and Afghanistan’s women) had no love before the care campaign, they will not get it after they’re really screwed and the drummed up concern of vote fixing and oppression goes away

  8. mary said on February 17th, 2010 at 2:39am #

    An extremely graphic account of his visit to the ‘West Bank’ by Michael Ratner and his family at Christmas. I hope that many of his fellow Americans get to see this video.


  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on February 17th, 2010 at 4:18am #

    The question must be asked- ‘How many of the odious Weasel’s signatories are Zionist Jews, and how many loyal Sabbat Goy stooges?’. After all it was Zionist Jews and their stooges who were the prime driving force of the demonisation of Iraq prior to the illegal aggression of 2003.After all the Zionist Plan for the Middle East of Oded Yinon, echoed by Netanyahu et al’s ‘A Clean Break’, both of which follow Zionist ambitions since the days of Herzl and Ben-Gurion, plot the destruction of the Islamic states of the Near and Middle East, and of the Indian sub-continent and the Horn of Africa, and their breaking up along ethnic and sectarian lines, into impotent statelets led by Quislings like Abbas,Mubbarrak and the Saudi ‘Royal Family’.I remember a lovely hatchet job on Weasel by that admirable Jew, Chomsky, years ago,outlining Weasel’s scarcely credible hypocrisy.All to one end, of course. The establishment of an impregnable Zionist terror state,of the Jews alone, not all its citizens by any means. lording it over the region, financed by billions in tribute every year from its puppet hyper-power, the US, dominating the politics media and business of the West through its bullying Jewish Lobbies, and a centre for every imaginable murky business, from financial malfeasance to drug trafficking and the trade in human beings and their organs.Iran is the latest obstacle to this vast criminal enterprise, so it will be attacked, although the Zionists would prefer it be softened up beforehand by sanctions. Then, as the Yesha Councilof Rabbis and Torah Sages declared in 2006, as Israel devastated Lebanon, yet again, it being a religious duty under Judaic law to kill enemy civilians in time of war, the Zionist state can get all religious as Iranians die. And Weasel will then, of course, keep his quaintly selective moralising mouth firmly shut.

  10. Rehmat said on February 17th, 2010 at 6:51am #

    Elie Wiesel was called a “fraud” by Dr. Norman Finkelstein.

    General David Petraeus (a Jewish Lobby’s choice), Head of US Central Command, during a recently interview with CNN threatened Islamic Iran by saying that in addition to crippling sanctions and international diplomacy, Washington is considering “contingency plans” against Iran’s nuclear installations in parallel. Responding to the General’s barking, Islamic Iran’s Chief of staff of Joint Armed Forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi advised Petraeus to carry out consultations before making such warmongering threats: “The politicians’ statement may not cost them dear, but the military men are expected to avoid making crude and emotional remarks”.

    Professor James Petras writing for the Global Research (May 4, 2008) called General David Petraeus Zionism’s Military Poodle: “In pointing to Iran, Petraeus played the dangerous game of echoing the Israeli line and providing support for a military attack on Iran promoted by the leadership of major American Jewish organizations. Even while Petraeus was covering up his failure (in Iraq) by blaming Iran, (the US) Iraqi puppet government was praising the Iranian government for helping to stablize the country by using its influence on the Shia militias to hold their fire. Puppet Prime Minister Maliki invited Iranian President (Ahmadinejad) to Baghdad, signed trade agreements and praised their co-operation and efforts to stablize the country”.

    Why Washington fears Islamic Iran?

  11. mary said on February 17th, 2010 at 7:30am #

    Ms Yael Kidron presumably one of the ‘chosen’ ones and of the IDF speaking –

    ‘We actually name our weapons. I named my gun Jack, Jack Black. Why? Because it’s black, and I like the name.

    It’s an Israeli-made machine gun, it’s got nice, smooth shooting. It’s a very comfortable gun.

    The gun is basically on you every single day. Even when you sleep it has to be under your head.

    And it’s a very, very, very cool experience, by the way, to shoot with a gun. I love it. ‘



  12. kalidas said on February 17th, 2010 at 8:45am #

    Norman Finkelstein was a little more creative and a lot more accurate in describing Elie the Wiesel as “resident clown of the Holocaust circus.”