The following is a transcript of Elie Wiesel’s speech given at the New York Israel Solidarity rally, NYC, 10/12/00
“We have gathered here to affirm our solidarity with Israel. We are outraged by the hypocritical vote in the Security Council, which did not condemn Palestinian excessive reactions but condemned Israel’s response to them. We stand by Israel whose present struggle was imposed upon her by the intransigence of the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority. Those of us who reject hatred and fanaticism as options and who consider peace as the noblest of efforts finally recognize Yasir Arafat for what he is: ignorant, devious and unworthy of trust.
We had hoped for a genuine peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. We had dreams of Israeli and Palestinian children playing together, studying together, laughing together, and discovering each other’s worlds. The pain, the agony, the death of any child, Palestinian or Jewish, is a torment to us. But why does Chairman Arafat not protect them but instead uses them as shields for adults throwing stones and worse?
Yes, it is with a heavy heart that we say that our dreams of peace have gone up in the smoke of ransacked synagogues, in the lynching of Israeli prisoners and of blood-thirsty mobs shouting their version of a Jerusalem without Jews and a Middle East without Israel. And I blame the supreme leader of the Palestinians, Yasir Arafat.
By rejecting Israel’s unprecedented generous territorial concessions, he is burying the peace process; in so doing, he has betrayed the confidence not only of his negotiating partners but of President Clinton and other western leaders, just as he has betrayed the highest honor society can bestow upon a person. How can a leader, any leader in Israel renew discussions with him before all the kidnapped soldiers are returned to their families?
By unleashing mob violence and bloodshed in the streets rather than guiding his frustrated people toward coexistence and peace, he renounced their legitimate aspirations for a future free of suffering and hatred.
I hold him responsible for the murder of Rabbi Hillel Lieberman and the lynching of two young reservists. All his promises were lies; all his commitments were false. Indeed many peace activists here and in Israel are now reassessing the Oslo accords.
Under Israel sovereignty, Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike could pray without fear in Jerusalem, our capital, which is at the center of Jewish history. A Jew may be Jewish far from Jerusalem; but not without Jerusalem. Though a Jew may not live in Jerusalem, Jerusalem lives inside him. No other nation’s memory is as identified with its memory as ours. No people have been as faithful to its name, or have celebrated its past with as much fervor. None of our prayers are as passionate as those that speak of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the dream of our dreams, the light that illuminates our hopeless moments. Its legitimacy lies in its sovereignty. To oppose one is to deny the other. Israel will never give up either. I accuse him of being morally weak, politically shortsighted and an obstacle to peace. I accuse him of murdering the hopes of an entire generation. His and ours.