Elie Wiesel is the famous Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner who accompanied President Obama to Buchenwald last year. He has taken out a full page ad headlined For Jerusalem in today’s Washington Post and Wall Street Journal for a signed statement in the nature of an open letter with its addressee discreetly omitted. Jennifer Rubin quotes a few pertinent paragraphs (emphasis in original):
For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture — and not a single time in the Koran. Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming. There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem. To many theologians, is IS Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain. When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it is a homecoming. The first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem. Its sadness and joy are part of our collective memory.
Jennifer notes that Wiesel continues with a historical review of the city dating back to King David and then provides this update:
Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines. And contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city. The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory.
What is the solution? Pressure will not produce a solution. Is there a solution? There must be, there will be. Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security. Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue, for such a time?
In his public persona Wiesel is (like the Jerusalem of his faith) above politics. The fact that Wiesel takes Obama’s quarrel with Israel over Jerusalem at face value is indicative of this. But Wiesel’s entry into the quarrel on Israel’s side against Obama is therefore all the more notable.