The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians carries heavy pain on both sides, but the history of who offered and who rejected peace must be acknowledged if we are to move forward.

By Elisha Wiesel
November 1, 2023

In his autobiographical book, “Night,” my father, Elie Wiesel, described the daily horror he and more than a million other Jews suffered in Auschwitz, the most infamous Nazi death camp. My father’s testimony is especially relevant now in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, the worst inflicted on Jewish people since the Holocaust.

I encourage teachers to assign “Night” and to invite their students to engage in hard conversations and ask impossible questions about evil and humanity. I invite adults to read the book and to ask hard questions of themselves and others as well.

If my father’s story grips you, understand that the Holocaust did not happen in a vacuum. Learn and confront the tragic history of antisemitism and the blood libel, the centuries-old accusation that Jews murder the innocent. And learn who my father was.

My father was a writer who became an activist and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was a proud Jew who felt compelled to fight suffering everywhere. He spoke up for the victims of genocide in Sudan and Rwanda, and challenged President Bill Clinton to address the suffering of Bosnian Muslims.

My father was a passionate Zionist who believed Israel was the only guarantee our people had against a second Holocaust. He not only acknowledged Palestinian suffering in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, but he also dreamed of peace openly, hosting dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders to accelerate its arrival.

My father testified to the world that Holocaust deniers should be known as enemies of truth and decency.

And now I ask you to bear witness.

Last month, the world got a preview of the massacres Hamas is capable of. Infants were killed and their bodies desecrated; women were raped and broken. Terrorists once again tried to kill the dream of peace many Israelis and Palestinians share.

Please learn about the victims of Hamas terror, many of whom were dancing for peace. Watch the videos showing young Gazan children being taught to worship terror. Listen to the words of Hamas leaders declaring that Gazans seek martyrdom, while Israel issues warnings to avoid civilian casualties.

Witness the moral courage of President Joe Biden as he rejects a modern blood libel, where Israel stands accused of having bombed a hospital.

False accusation:Media helped spread blood libel against Israel, Jews in Gaza hospital news coverage

Hamas and Israel are not morally equivalent

Remember all this for when someone tries to convince you that there is moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel.

For those on America’s college campuses, you may encounter professors such as the ones at Columbia, Cornell and Yale who recently described the appalling attacks by Hamas as “awesome,” “exhilarating” and “an extraordinary day.”

You also may encounter students such as the ones at University of Pennsylvania and Harvard who claim Hamas’ murderous assault was justified.

And you may even be subjected to threats of antisemitic violence as happened at Cornell University this past weekend.

Ask questions of those who justify violence by Hamas

Here are some questions to ask those who try to justify Hamas’ violence:

Ask these hard questions and others. And be smart enough to know when someone is telling a half-truth. Do your research.

Wake up, America.How Hamas trumped Netanyahu holds lesson for divided United States

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians carries heavy pain on both sides. But the history of who offered and who rejected peace must be acknowledged if we are to move forward.

And the clarity of seeing who each of us is in the United States in this moment has never been more vital if America is to move forward. Who are the antisemites engaged in modern blood libel by falsely accusing Israel of genocide? Who stands up to oppose them? And who stands by silently, as so many did in the Holocaust?

I often hear from people: “If only your father were still here!”

My father loved questions more than answers. He is no longer here to ask them.

But you are.

Elisha Wiesel is the son of Marion Wiesel and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.

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