ELIE WIESEL: MESSENGER TO ALL HUMANITY by Robert McAfee Brown. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983, 244pp, Pb, ISBN 0-268-00908-2.
Reviewed by L.A. Rollins
Pushkin claims a beautiful lie is superior to a debasing truth. I don't agree: Truth alone elevates man, even when it hurts. The task of the writer is, after all, not to appease, or flatter, but to disturb, to warn, to question by questioning oneself.
- Elie Wiesel, A Jew Today, translated by Marion Wiesel [New York: Vintage, 1979], p. 130.
Robert McAfee Brown is a professor of theology and ethics at the Pacific School of Religion. In relation to "Holocaust survivor" Elie Wiesel, however, Brown regards himself as "the pupil," and refers to Wiesel as his "rebbe," or teacher. [pxii]
But although his teacher has written that the task of a writer is not to appease, or flatter, Brown flatters his teacher outrageously in Elie Wiesel: Messenger to All Humanity, his study of Wiesel's writings. Indeed, this literary lickspittle tells his readers right away, "This is not a 'critical' appraisal of Wiesel, and I make no apologies for the fact ..." [Ibid.]
Rather than criticize Wiesel, Brown has devoted himself to brown-nosing his teacher. Thus, for example, he tells us that Wiesel "does not evade ghastly revelations of human depravity, nor will he let us do so." [p. 2] But this is hogwash, if only because of the fact that Wiesel routinely evades ghastly revelations of Jewish "depravity. "
In an open letter entitled, "To a Young Palestinian Arab," Wiesel pretends to denounce "the injustice endured by Arab refugees in 1948." [A Jew Today, p. 122.] But, like any other Zionist propaganda hack, Wiesel puts the entire blame on Arab leaders, who supposedly "incited the Arab population to mass flight in order to return 'forthwith' as victors." [Ibid.] Wiesel makes not the slightest mention of the massacre of about 250 women, children and old men in the Arab village of Deir Yassin by Irgun and Stern Gang terrorists, commanded by those incipient statesmen, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, on April 9, 1948, shortly before the Israeli "declaration of independence." Anti-Zionist author Alfred Lilienthal cites various sources regarding the impact of this massacre:
Jon Kimche, the Zionist writer, calling the incident "the darkest stain on the Jewish record throughout the fighting," stated, "The terrorist justified the massacre of Deir Yassin because it led to the panic flight of the remaining Arabs in the Jewish state areas Jewish writer Don Peretz described the result of Deir Yassin as a amass fear psychosis which grasped the whole Arab community." Arthur Koestler wrote, this "bloodbath ... was the psychologically decisive factor in the spectacular exodus of the Arab refugees." [The Zionist Connection, New York: Dodd, Mead, 1978, p. 156.]
According to Brown, "Wiesel seeks to enlist us in the ongoing struggle of light against darkness, of memory against indifference." [p. 192] Here he parrots Wiesel's phony rationale for habitually harping on "the Holocaust" - the importance of "memory." But the Deir Yassin massacre is just one of many episodes of Jewish history which Wiesel finds eminently forgettable.
Thus, Wiesel has written, "There were never any religious persecutions instigated, organized or implemented by Jews." [A Jew Today, p. 210.] Down the Orwellian "memory hole" goes the forcible conversion to Judaism of the Idumeans by John Hyrcanus. Also consigned to oblivion is the participation of Jews in instigating persecutions of Christians during the rule of pagan Rome. According to Bernard Lazare, the French-Jewish anarchist who later became a Zionist:
The Church, in those evil days, could not count on its rival, the Synagogue, for assistance; in some places where the struggle between the Jews and Christians had reached an acute stage the Jews, recognized by Roman legislation and possessed of vested rights, would join the citizens of the towns in dragging the Christians before the court. In Antioch, for example, where the enmity between the two sects was most bitter, in all probability, the Jews, like the pagans, demanded the trial and execution of Polycarp. They are said to have fed with great eagerness the stake upon which the bishop was burned. [Antisemitism, London: Britons, 1967, p. 37.]
Mister Memory has also forgotten the Jewish persecution of Jewish heretics. According to Lazare:
In 1232, Rabbi Solomon of Montpellier issued an anathema against all those who would read the Moreh Nebukhim [Guide of the Perplexed by Maimonides] or would take up scientific and philosophic studies.... The fanatical rabbis appealed to the fanaticism of the Dominicans, they denounced the Guide of the Perplexed and had it burned by the inquisition. At the instigation of a German doctor, Asher ben Yechiel, a synod of thirty rabbis met at Barcelona, with ben Adret in the chair, and excommunicated all those who read books other than the Bible and the Talmud, when under twenty-five years.
A counter-excommunication was proclaimed by Jacob Tibbon, who, at the head of the Provencal rabbis, boldly defended condemned science. All was in vain: those wretched Jews, whom everybody tormented for their faith, persecuted their coreligionists more cruelly and severely than they had ever been persecuted. Those whom they accused of indifference had to undergo the worst punishments; the blasphemers had their tongues cut; Jewish women who had any relations with Christians were condemned to disfigurement: their noses were subjected to ablation. [Op. cit., p. 64.]
[The dictionary definition of "ablation" is: the surgical removal of a growth, organ or part of the body. Therefore, Lazare presumably meant that their noses were cut off.]
Despite these and similar facts, including some about the present-day State of Israel, Wiesel denies that Jews have ever perpetrated any religious persecutions. Indeed, he also denies that Jews have ever hated their enemies, or become executioners when they have had power and their enemies none. And he denies that any of the "notorious" killers in history were Jews. [A Jew Today, p. 210.]
Robert McAfee Brown, wretched creature that he is, studiously ignores Wiesel's brazen whitewashing of Jews. Meanwhile, he obseqiously echoes Wiesel's accusations against Gentiles, as well as Wiesel's hypocritical denunciations of those who deny his accusations.
To deny the truth of the "Holocaust" story is an "ugly way" to avoid involvement," says Brown. [p. 8J "There is no greater indignity," he tells us, "than to say to a suffering person, 'Your suffering is a fake.... You invented it to gain sympathy.... You are an impostor.' " [p. 10] Furthermore, "... attempts to deny a past Holocaust almost ensure that there will be a future one." [p. 11] Brown even approvingly quotes Wiesel's characterization of revisionist writings as "the recent attempts to kill the victims again." [Ibid.] [I sometimes wonder if Wiesel isn't a resurrected victim of the homocidal "steam chambers" of Treblinka, he's so full of hot air.]
"In the face of those who 'speak obscenely' by attempting to deny the story, we too must register disgust. And having done so, turn our backs on those who disgust us and listen no longer, listening instead to Elie Wiesel telling the story once more, a story that supplies its own credentials." [pp. 11-12] Is this Brown's euphemistic way of telling us that Wiesel's tall tales about "the Holocaust" are self-evidently true? Apparently so. Wiesel, it should be noted, does not claim to have been an eyewitness to any of the alleged mass gassings of Jews by the Nazis. Indeed, he only claims to have seen one event relevant to the allegations about mass extermination - the burning alive of a truck-load of babies in a flaming pit on the night that he arrived at Birkenau. Obviously it's a hell of a story. But is it true?
Consider what Wiesel himself has said in an anti-revisionist lecture given at Northwestern University:
The boy that began to talk to you tonight, where is he? Did he dream or live his dreams of fear and fire? Did he really witness the agony of mankind, through the death of his community? Did he really see the triumph of brutality, did he hear or imagine the laughter of the executioner? Did he really see killers throwing children, Jewish children, into the flames alive? I rarely speak about this, but in this place we must. For a very long while I resisted accepting this story as mine. For years and years I clung to the belief that it was all a dream, a nightmare. No, I did not see the children. I did not see the flames.
It was no dream. It was real. Jewish children, living Jewish children were thrown into the flames in order to save money because the gas was costly. [Dimensions of the Holocaust, Evanston, IL: Northwestern University, 1977, pp. 17-18.]
Wiesel does not tell us when, or how, or why he decided that the incident was real, and not a dream. He simply expects us to accept without question his present assertions about the matter. That may be good enough for Robert McAfee Brown, who revels in grovelling before the Shrine of the Sacred Weasel. But, for those of us who are not oblivious to Wiesel's obvious hypocrisy and dishonesty, his unsupported assertions are not conclusive evidence of anything. And, as a matter of fact, there are some positive reasons for doubt about Wiesel's story of children being burned in pits at Birkenau, though, for the time being, I'm going to keep those reasons for doubt up my sleeve.
As for Robert McAfee Brown, like the whale that swallowed Jonah, he swallows Wiesel's "Hol"Holocaust" stories whole. From that starting point, he devotes the bulk of his book to Wieselian weaseling about the moral, religious and theological "implications" of "The Event." He faithfully follows all the twistings and turnings of Wiesel's non-Aristotelian "Auschwitz logic." Paradoxes parade past the reader. "The Event" is relentlessly made mysterious.
And yet ... through the mist of mystification some conclusions shine through quite clearly: the incomparable importance of "The Event"; the necessity of giving special attention to Jews as victims of "The Event"; and the guilt of Christians for complicity in "The Event." All the fundamental dogmas of Wiesel's brand of "Holocaust" Fundamentalism.
Brown, a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, of which Wiesel is the chairman, was not content to compose this book-length hymn of praise to Elie Wiesel. He had to dedicate it to him as well. In his dedication, he tells Wiesel, "At every stage" of the writing "it seemed a tampering with things I had no right-to touch." For this reason, "I tried very hard, my friend, not to write this book." He should have tried harder - much. much harder.
Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 373-377.
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