Paul Kagame and Elie Wiesel Team Up for Bombing Syria
Ann GarrisonSeptember 22,2013
On September 29th, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel will join Rwandan President Paul Kagame for "A UN Week Discussion in Prelude to the 20th Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide and the International Response to the Syrian Chemical Slaughter," at the Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 East 7th Street, 6:30 pm. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach will moderate as they address the question, "Are the strong obliged to protect the weak?" Billionaire Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson will give the introduction, billionaire hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt the concluding remarks. I spoke to Mondoweiss writer Marc Ellis, who responded to the event promotion with an essay titled, "Most Wanted Poster of Imperial Jewish Life Hypes Attack on Syria."
Ann Garrison: Marc Ellis, could you explain the online publication Mondoweiss, for readers who haven't yet visited your website?
Marc Ellis: It's a site that features Middle East news from a leftist perspective. It's essentially anti-Zionist but in general it's news about Israel and Palestine, sometimes the rest of the Middle East, American foreign policy, and domestic lobbying.
AG: Could you explain why you described the promo for this upcoming event as a "Most Wanted Poster of Imperial Jewish Life"?
ME: Because of the featured speakers, not only the speakers but also what they represent: Birthright Israel, Ellie Wiesel, Kagame from Rwanda. Of course Kagame's not Jewish, but he's there to link the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Syria. This is the worst of contemporary Jewish life - its militarism in defense of Israel and its willingness to link up with reprehensible governments and policies.
AG: You've done some writing about Israel's military alliances with some of its other authoritarian neighbors, right?
ME: Yes. Israel has been fully integrated into the Middle East Security Network, and I don't mean just the United States and Israel, but the United States and Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. That's a silent integration that no one's speaking much about, but I've been writing about it on Mondoweiss.
AG: And what about this likening of the Holocaust, the Rwanda Genocide, and the use of chemical weapons in Syria?
ME: That's ridiculous. Anyone who makes a comparison between the Holocaust, Rwanda, and chemical weapons use in Syria needs to have their head examined. Chemical weapons are awful, of course; no one's disputing that. We don't really know who used the chemical weapons, etcetera, etcetera, but the use of chemical weapons is reprehensible. So is the use of drone attacks, sniper fire, killing innocent people, bombing them. All of that is absolutely awful.
The Holocaust is trotted out at different times and it never has anything to do with the Holocaust. It's sad, not only because the Holocaust has nothing to do with any of these other situations, but also because it trivializes the Holocaust. It's what I call instrumentalizing the Holocaust for imperial designs. But fortunately, there are Jews of conscience who are saying no to all of these attempts to link the Holocaust to these other events that have nothing to do with the Holocaust.
AG: Kagame seems well-suited to this event because Rwanda has been granted the same sort of victim's license - in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - that Israel has been granted in Palestine.
ME: Well, there has been international concern about Rwanda in the Congo. Whether that's translated into any realistic policy to stop them is another question. But Rwanda is using its genocide - the government is - in the way that Israel and many Jews use the Holocaust.