Monthly Archives: November 2009

Who Gives A Damn About Wiesel And Hagee (and Uzi Landau)?

Elie Wiesel with Dear Pastor John Hagee and Uzi Landau of Avigdor Liebermans Yisrael Beiteinu Party

Elie Wiesel with "Dear Pastor" John Hagee and Uzi Landau of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu Party

I pointed out recently that none of those who whined about my remarks at J Street’s unofficial blogger panel could address the substance of my criticism of Elie Wiesel for allying himself with anti-Semite madman Pastor John Hagee. Marty Peretz is the latest to avoid the uncomfortable facts I offered, sticking instead to juvenile insults by calling me “barely pubescent.” Marty was followed as usual by his personal chai walla, Jamie Kirchick, who claimed that I “mocked Wiesel for investing money with Bernard Madoff.” Once again, no mention of Hagee.

But look what happened when Ron Kampeas of the JTA actually did try to address my argument. In his attempt to explain why Wiesel’s appearance with Hagee was no big deal, Kampeas went into wild contortions, churning out graf after graf of apologia for Hagee, veering into barely comprehensible metaphors about Huckleberry Hound masks, then concluding, “Who gives a damn?” Right, who cares about famous Nobel Prize-winning Holocaust survivors making alliances with far-right demagogues who believe the Holocaust was part of the fulfillment of End Times prophecy? Who gives a damn as long as Hagee keeps pumping money into Israel’s settlement movement in the West Bank? Apparently not Kampeas, who happens to live in one of those settlements.

I emailed Kampeas the other day, asking him to correct his claim that the good Pastor Hagee had apologized for his notorious “God sent Hitler” sermon. I pointed out, citing the research of Bruce Wilson, that Hagee had apologized for an entirely separate sermon and still sells tapes of the sermon in question on his JHM website. Kampeas wrote another long, winding and barely comprehensible post attempting to explain away Hagee’s sermons, insisting that only evangelicals should be allowed to judge Hagee — even if Israel is working hand-in-glove with him.

But as Kampeas is wrapping up, something weird happens: he discovers suddenly that Hagee’s sermons are larded with “narratives about a powerful, secretive group controlling the world’s finances” — which may be anti-Semitic after all. Acting as though he just discovered who Hagee is, as if John McCain never disavowed the pastor, Kampeas says he’s ordering Hagee’s literature to investigate. Thanks, Ron! Well be waiting with bated breath to find out if Hagee was correct to predict that the Antichrist will be “partly Jewish…as Hitler was.”

One more thing: Elie Wiesel is not sacred. Wiesel has advanced an ulterior political agenda for decades, thus opening himself up for legitimate criticism. As Adam Schatz wrote, Wiesel has “gone from being a great victim of war crimes to being an apologist for those who commit them — all while invoking his moral authority as a survivor.” Among the oppressive forces Wiesel has advocated for are the fanatical and violent Jewish settlers of the West Bank.

We interviewed Wiesel pal Uzi Landau while he hung out with former members of the terrorist Kach movement

At Hagee’s Cornerstone Church, Wiesel appeared beside Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau, the number two in Avigdor Lierberman’s neo-fascist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, which advocates criminalizing “disloyal” elements like Palestinians citizens of Israel. Landau believes the Palestinians are the real “occupiers,” and has been known to pal around with members the terrorist Kach movement. I caught up with Landau at the 2009 Moskowitz Awards, where former Kach spokesman Noam Arnon was honored with $50,000. In an on-camera interview with my associate Jesse Rosenfeld, Landau defended Arnon’s settlement in Hebron and slammed restrictions on settlement construction. Arnon, by the way, has called his friend, the mass murdering religious fanatic Baruch Goldstein, “an extraordinary person.”

So Wiesel, who preaches the “lessons of the Holocaust,” appeared beside an anti-Semitic one-world government conspiracist and a defender of religious terrorist settlers? Who gives a damn?