Sunday, October 28, 2007

Interview with Elie Wiesel

PJV#29 November 2007
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
-- Charles Smolover

Elie Wiesel is a Romanian-born French-Jewish novelist, political activist, Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor and outspoken advocate for justice. He is the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust. He is attending the AIPAC Summit in Philadelphia at the end of October and spoke recently with the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.


PJV: The subject of the Armenian Genocide has been in the news. The U.S. Congress has been debating whether to officially recognize the events in question as genocide, and the Turks, to no one’s surprise, are not pleased. Some in the Jewish community are reluctant to touch this issue for fear of damaging Turkey’s relationship with Israel. What is your take on this issue?

I have been fighting for the right of the Armenian people to remember for years and years. How could I, who has fought all my life for Jewish remembrance, tell the Armenians they have no right to remember? But I understand the administration's view. Fortunately, as a private citizen I don’t have to worry about Turkey’s response. But I do feel that had there been the word “genocide” in those days, what happened to the Armenians would have been called genocide. Everyone agrees there was mass murder, but the word came later. I believe the Armenians are the victims and, as a Jew, I should be on their side.

PJV: If the Armenians have a right to remember, don’t the Turks have an obligation to take some responsibility?

No one is asking for the Turks to take responsibility. All the Armenians want is the right to remember. Seven generations separate us from the events that happened in World War I and nobody in his right mind would say that today's Turks are responsible for what happened. The Armenians don’t want reparations, they don’t even want an apology. They want the right to remember. The Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened. I have spoke with Turkish leaders at the highest level and their attitude about this issue is totally irrational except for one thing which I do understand. They don’t want to be compared to Hitler. But of course, nobody does.


Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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