By Elisha Wiesel
November 14, 2023
Intro photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

My father loved the Jewish story of the just man who wandered the town of Sodom, shouting the dangers of its inhabitants’ evil deeds.

It was a story he lived.  After bearing witness to the horrors of Auschwitz, he demanded that the world fight evil.  He warned that hatred which begins with antisemitism inevitably threatens the whole world.

But as with the just man, my father’s protests were ignored.

The United Nations did nothing in 1948 when the Arab Middle East violently rejected Israel’s existence.  Seventeen years later, it equated Zionism with racism.

“This is not the first time the enemy has accused us of his own crimes,” my father wrote of Israel’s trial in the court of world opinion.  “Our possessions were taken from us, and we were called misers; our children were massacred, and we were accused of ritual murder.”

Antisemitism at the United Nations has become a fact of life. Last week, the UN adopted eight resolutions, all of which condemned Israel. One of the resolutions was drafted and co-sponsored by Syria, whose dictator, Bashar al-Assad has murdered 300,000 of his own citizens.

The Simchat Torah bombing of a Parisian synagogue in 1980 shattered any sense of French Jewish post-war safety.  My father lashed out at those who denied the Jewish people’s right to exist.  “Perhaps the killers think we have forgotten our history”, he wrote.  “We have forgotten nothing.”

Antisemitism in France has exploded over the last decade. Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron called for a ceasefire that would give Hamas time to regroup.  He declined to participate in Sunday’s rally of 180,000 Jews and allies marching against antisemitism, saying “I have to make choices… otherwise, I’d be at demonstrations every week”.

It was only 80 years ago that more than one-third of the global Jewish population was wiped out in Europe.  My father saw Israel as the only guarantee against a second Holocaust.

In 2014, Israel was widely attacked in the media for responding militarily to Hamas rocket attacks against civilians. My father published an ad exposing Hamas as a death cult, guilty of engaging in child sacrifice through its use of human shields. The London Times refused to run the ad; fellow Jews he thought of as friends attacked him for it after his death.

So many of us have woken up since Oct. 7 to a nightmare where we are told that we must accept terror attacks as the price for living in our ancient homeland.  We are told that we may not destroy enemies that are trying to destroy us.

We are victims of constant psychological warfare. We are glued to our screens, watching images of suffering among Gaza’s civilian population that have now replaced the Israeli victims. You and I look at it and say: this must stop.  Which of course is what Hamas wants. Our moral reaction is what they are counting on in order to be able to kill again and again.

We must reject the gaslighting. Israel could turn Gaza into dust from the air, but she is sacrificing her precious heroes in a ground war precisely to avoid civilian casualties.  Meanwhile, Hamas seeks to maximize those casualties by hiding its military equipment and personnel in hospitals, stealing resources meant for civilians, opening fire during civilian evacuations through humanitarian corridors.

Former President Barack Obama, on a recent podcast, stated that “all of us are complicit to some degree” in the violence unleashed on Oct. 7.  But that isn’t so. My father was not complicit, because he was not convinced of the wisdom of unlocking billions of dollars for Iran that could ultimately fund Hamas and this attack.

Israel is not complicit, either. Nothing could ever justify the rape and desecration of women in the southern Kibbutzim of Israel or the dragging of a corpse through the Gaza streets for Hamas supporters to spit upon.

We will likely not convince the skeptics that we deserve the same rights as every other people: to secure our borders and defend our citizens. And yet today we will march, regardless, several hundred thousand of us coming together resolutely on the National Mall. For the just man speaks up, not only to convince others.

Heed my father’s words: “In the beginning, I thought I could change man. Today, I know I cannot. If I still shout today, if I still scream, it is to prevent man from ultimately changing me.”

We deserve to exist in peace and security. Neither Israel nor Gazan civilians can afford this to be anything other than the last battle. This war can only end with the complete destruction or surrender of Hamas. The world may not want to listen to these truths, but we, like my father before us, must shout them nonetheless.

Elisha Wiesel, is the son of Marion Wiesel and the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.

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