Elie Wiesel: It'd be foolish to call Obama anti-Israel
Holocaust chronicler tells Haaretz he was struck by president's concern for Israel and Jewish suffering.
After touring the former Nazi death camp Buchenwald with President Barack Obama last week, Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel told Haaretz he had no doubt that the U.S. leader bore no anti-Israel sentiments.
"I can say with complete certainty that Obama does not hate Israel," said Wiesel, in response to rising criticism among U.S. Jews regarding the president's policies on Israel and West Bank settlements. "It would be foolish to say he is anti-Israel."
The Holocaust survivor and chronicler said that after spending a full day with Obama and conversing with him for hours, he was struck by the president's demeanor as an "attentive and understanding man. He is concerned with the suffering of the Jewish people and by what is happening in Israel."
According to Wiesel, Israel "can and should with Obama" on reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians."
Wiesel, meanwhile, has joined a campaign of intellectuals protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to rescind objection to the appointment of an anti-Israel Egyptian minister to head UNESCO.
Egypt's Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, recently retracted a number of anti-Israel statements made in the past, including a call to "burn all Hebrew books."
Still, intellectuals including Wiesel and French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy wrote an open letter denouncing Hosni to Le Monde, in which they said: "Mr. Farouk Hosni is the opposite of a man of peace, dialogue, and culture; Mr. Farouk Hosni is a dangerous man, an inciter of hearts and minds."
Wiesel told Haaretz on Wednesday that he intended to continue the campaign against Hosni, regardless of Netanyahu's position.