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Elie Wiesel: Please Help Us Write about Gaza and Israel

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Last Friday, Israel barricaded border crossings into Gaza, denying access to UN trucks carrying food and water. A humanitarian crisis is looming, and perhaps it is fear of the inevitable label of anti-Semitism that keeps those of us who can wield the pen as sword from examining this issue more thoroughly. And make no mistake about it; this is a moral issue that needs serious examination.

The UN Human Rights Council criticized Israel on Thursday for its blockade of Gaza, but the vote is under scrutiny because European Union members did not vote, citing “lack of balance” in a calculated political maneuver. Western powers criticized the resolution, saying that it made no mention of Palestinian rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.

The rocket attacks are not surprising, considering that Israel cut power to the only sub station in Gaza that is capable of providing electricity that is essential for water and sewage treatment. Hospitals do not have the ability to run neo-natal incubators and other essential life-sustaining equipment.

So the innocent suffer.

It is unconscionable that Israel would turn its chokehold blockade of Gaza into a full-scale lockdown of all food, water and humanitarian aid. Bowing to international pressure instead of the pressures of morality, Israel on Tuesday permitted shipments of cooking gas and fuel to power Gaza's one power station.

In a 30 to one vote, the Human Rights Council adopted the resolution that called for "urgent international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations committed by the occupying power, Israel, in the occupied Palestinian territory.”


Palestinian militants set off bombs on Wednesday and destroyed the Israeli-built southern border wall, allowing thousands of Gazan refugees to pour into Egypt, creating yet another refugee crisis.

The life and work of Holocaust survivor, former teacher, and mentor Elie Wiesel has driven the work of this writer since college. Wiesel eloquently said: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

As I considered this crisis, I naively thought, surely this man will have spoken about the current moral dilemma in a way that would provide guidance for those of us who want to shed light into the dark corners of oppression. There are reports that 80 percent of the 1.5 million people living in Gaza are dependent upon the food aid that Israel has denied.

Thorough searches of the Internet and libraries have provided no guidance from Elie Wiesel. He has been silent on Gaza, except to say that the Palestinians did not show the proper respect for Jews forced to leave Gaza by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon in 2005.

However, the United Nations has provided some guidance in terms of analysis of the oppression that Israel is now perpetrating upon the Palestinian people.

Doctor Wiesel, you wrote to me several years ago about my work and writings regarding the Rwandan genocide.

Do you remember the time you sat across the table at a dinner at Professor William Hill’s home in Chicago in 1972? Your soulful obsidian eyes with the deep, dark circles underneath looked into mine as you told me that surely I would be called upon to be a witness in my life. I was young and brash and ready for any challenge, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be asking you, you who know so well the feelings of persecution and misery, to come forward and offer hope for both Palestinians and Jews alike. Where is your compassion for the people of Gaza?

You speak about the dispossessed having to carry their “holiest possessions” to new homes when you speak of the relocated Jews.

Please, Doctor Wiesel, come forward and tell me, your former student, how I can help the holy mothers of Palestine who have no food to nourish the breast milk for their infants? Surely you of all people can understand the moral obligations we face? Humiliation and suffering know no international borders. You taught me this many years ago.

I am a writer with only my sword arm that now wields the pen, and my arm is broken. What can you offer me now in the way of wisdom and strength?

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)
 

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You wrote:The rocket attacks are not surprising, c... by Barbara Peterson on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 11:18:40 AM
The attacks begin....... by Georgianne Nienaber on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 11:24:50 AM
It is interesting that you consider an alternate o... by Barbara Peterson on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:15:29 PM
Barbara, Hamas shut down the power plant because I... by Mac McKinney on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:07:24 PM
For some reason, the 'reply to' link is no... by Barbara Peterson on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:21:08 PM
While the fuel supply from Israel into Gaza h... by Barbara Peterson on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 1:25:33 PM
I am not really impressed with the objectivity of ... by Mac McKinney on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 6:39:40 PM
Here are portions of an article in Ynet ... by Barbara Peterson on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 8:55:47 PM
Only 30% translates into some 300,000 to 400,000 p... by Mac McKinney on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 10:34:50 PM
Since no-one is disputing Barb's contention th... by Rob Kall on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 8:03:41 AM
My point exactly. It is difficult to think beyond ... by Barbara Peterson on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 11:30:05 AM
The electricity is just symptomatic of a larger pr... by Mac McKinney on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 1:37:11 PM
I have traveled the middle east and I can say for ... by Michael Morris on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 11:58:40 AM
painfully obvious that Israeli govt is  the e... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:33:04 PM
We need the UN, with all its flaws as a human inst... by Georgianne Nienaber on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:38:52 PM
A very good analysis! The governments of all the p... by Barbara Peterson on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:53:17 PM
I enjoyed the article, but I wouldn't expect m... by Hans Bennett on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 12:45:03 PM
As a person of Jewish origin,  a ' c... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 1:50:31 PM
There is so much censorship in the U.S. of anythin... by Sandy Jewell on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 2:54:26 PM
Mark; this is a sidebar to the above article -- bu... by boomerang on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 4:49:27 PM
the article about Zakheim seems very convincing an... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 7:29:54 PM
Yes, the question was directed to you.  Thank... by boomerang on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 8:32:34 PM
About 3:00 am on Wednesday morning Jan. 23, well-c... by Mac McKinney on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 6:15:18 PM
Once and for all we have to remove the "force... by W. Christopher Epler (Bill) on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 6:37:55 PM
Excellent piece Giorgianne. Zionists are strange p... by Niloufar Parsi on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 10:40:28 PM
Don't worry, it is pretty difficult to put me ... by Georgianne Nienaber on Thursday, Jan 24, 2008 at 11:17:27 PM
http://www.opednews.com/maxwrite/diarypage.php?did... by Mark Sashine on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 7:54:13 AM
go to Mark Sashine in the writers archives.  ... by Mark Sashine on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 8:20:00 AM
Can you take the mardi gras to the moon please &... by dave stanley on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 2:52:16 AM
In America the right wing does what it wants and g... by dave stanley on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 2:54:59 AM
http://www.opednews.com/maxwrite/diarypage.php?did... by Mark Sashine on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 7:39:17 AM
http://www.un.org/unifeed/script.asp?scriptId=2894... by Georgianne Nienaber on Friday, Jan 25, 2008 at 8:39:54 AM
As Israel's crimes against the Palestinians ma... by Sandy Jewell on Saturday, Jan 26, 2008 at 2:34:15 PM