By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel on Wednesday urged lawmakers to fight re-emerging anti-Semitism and other prejudice around the world, telling a Senate committee that “hatred is still alive and well.”
“I belong to a traumatized generation that has witnessed the defeat of Nazism and communism, but not that of hatred,” said Wiesel, winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. “Had I considered the possibility hatred would re-emerge so soon, I would not have believed it.”
Wiesel testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that brought together a disparate group of witnesses to talk about the “Legacy of the Holocaust.”
Jewish groups urged the U.S. government to speak out against what they said is a revival of anti-Semitism in the Middle East, former Soviet Union and elsewhere. U.S. government officials brought the committee up to date on programs around the world to compensate Holocaust survivors and on the progress of a U.S. presidential commission that is investigating Holocaust-related issues in the states.
“Hatred did not die in Auschwitz,” Wiesel told the committee. “Jews perished there, not anti-Semitism. Hatred is still alive and well.”
“Nazis and neo-nazis are everywhere,” he said. “I don’t know who finances them, but they are active and vocal, and we find them everywhere.”
He raised the question of what should be done about those who deny the Holocaust or espouse hatred and prejudice.
“Should there be a way of checking when and where their words cross the line of free speech, which is so important to us?” he asked. “When it becomes a cycle of hate and violence, what are we to do? What can you do as the lawmakers of this land?” [note]
American Jewish Committee Executive Director David A. Harris urged the panel to look at what his organization called the “shocking revival of vitriolic anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial” across the Arab world.
“Islamic anti-Semitic activity in the Middle East can no longer be ignored or downplayed or viewed as little more than an Arab negotiating tactic in the complex Arab-Israeli peace talks,” he said in his prepared testimony.
“There is an urgent need to reject this behavior unconditionally,” he said, citing comments by the Mufti of Jerusalem trivializing the Holocaust during the Pope’s pilgrimage there last month.
And the National Conference on Soviet Jewry said U.S. officials should emphasize to their counterparts in former Soviet states the importance of democracy and minority rights.
“We would never have imagined a post-Soviet landscape littered with neo-Nazi and fascist-oriented extremists visibly trying to revive the … ideology against which the Russian people battled so fiercely,” said Mark B. Levin, executive director of the group, which advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia.
“It is with sadness and frustration that we must face reality — ethnic hatred in Kosovo and Rwanda, nationalist hatred in Chechnya, political hatred in the Middle East,” Wiesel said.
Note: Holocaust revisionists (not “deniers,” as Wiesel and others mendaciously refer to them) are the victims of violence, not the cause of it. There is not one reported or known case of Holocaust revisionism leading to violence. There are, however, numerous cases of revisionists being harassed, beaten up, and even murdered for their views.