Elie Wiesel: Haredi 'Holocaust' Protest in Israel Was a 'Vile Sight'

Nobel laureate severely criticizes ultra-Orthodox protesters wearing concentration camp uniforms, yellow badges, says Haredi participants are 'spiritually poisoning their children.'

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel severely criticized a recent ultra-Orthodox protest that employed Holocaust imagery on Monday, calling it a "vile sight."

On Saturday night, the ultra-Orthodox community staged a demonstration in Jerusalem's Kikar Hashabbat (Sabbath Square), where they dressed in prisoner uniforms with yellow badges with the word "Jew" written in German, to protest what they termed the exclusion of Haredim.

An ultra-Orthodox demonstration in Jerusalem’s Kikar Hashabbat. Friedlander is opposed to making political use of the Holocaust.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Israeli politicians responded with outrage to the protesters' use of Holocaust symbolism. Among those politicians were Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni. The Anti-Defamation League also released a press report condemning the act.

Speaking to Haaretz on Tuesday, Wiesel, a survivor of the Buchenwald and Auschwitz camps, who documented the horrors of the Holocaust in such books as Night and Dawn, was noticeably upset, saying: "I never thought they'd stoop to such a low. How dare they? To both desecrate the honor of the State of Israel and the memory of the Holocaust?"

"How dare they protest with a yellow badge within Israel?" the noted author asked, saying: "In difficult moments and times of crisis which Israel and the Jewish people have seen, I don't remember seeing such a vile sight.:

"I never believed we would ever come to this. What will they do next?" the Holocaust survivor wondered, accusing the Haredi protesters of "spiritually poising their children."

Speaking following Saturday's contentious rally, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, himself a member of the Haredi community, admonished the violence, saying, however, that wild incitement against all the ultra-Orthodox was taking place.

Everyone knows it is only a small minority of Haredi society is involved, the leader of the Shas party said in an interview with Army Radio, Sunday morning. Haredi women and children are being abused and verbally assaulted off camera.

I dont want to my words to be misconstrued as supporting the wild and extremist behavior, he said. I am opposed to the use of Holocaust symbolism in demonstrations.