Now she has also made what looks like a highly savvy decision. She has named as her next book club selection Elie Wiesel's 1960 memoir, "Night," a searing account of the author's journey through the nightmare of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. What better way for Oprah to underscore her point about a memoir's underlying message — and at the same time to insulate herself from criticism over the Frey contretemps — than to warm herself by the hearth of Holocaust remembrance? After all, no one will contest Wiesel's memoir or — thankfully — the truth of the historical events it recounts.It gets more ghastly, look:
Oprah is planning a trip to Auschwitz with Wiesel, who has a reputation as a truth-teller, a witness to human cruelty, a shining example of the power of remembrance over the forces of evil, deceit and amnesia. And yes, the pilgrimage to the camps will be filmed.And worse still:
it overlooks the far more disturbing "recovery" that Wiesel has made since his ordeal in the camps. For the author of "Night" has gone from being a great victim of war crimes to being an apologist for those who commit them — all while invoking his moral authority as a survivor.Can it get worse? Well yes:
Wiesel does not believe that Gypsies and gays should be remembered alongside Jewish victims of the Holocaust, although hundreds of thousands of them perished. He has frowned upon the use of the term "genocide" in reference to the Armenian holocaust.It couldn't get worse than that surely?
Wiesel's troubles with memory and truth are especially acute when it comes to Israel's behavior toward Palestinians. For example, he has long maintained that the 1948 Palestinian refugees left voluntarily, "incited by their leaders," a claim that Israel's own historians have done much to shatter.But read the whole thing.
In the face of abundant evidence from human rights groups that Israel has committed widespread human rights violations in the occupied territories, Wiesel has either denied such reports or loftily asserted that, as a Jew who does not live in Israel, he has no right to air his criticisms (though, paradoxically, his nonresident status does not prevent him from airing his praise). His last Op-Ed article in the New York Times was a lamentation for the settlers of Gaza, zealots whom even Ariel Sharon, the architect of the settlement project, finally had the wisdom to remove from their stronghold.
The author of a justly praised Holocaust memoir, Wiesel may provide Oprah with good cover after the Frey disaster. As a historian and political commentator, however, Wiesel has been a specialist in denial, a man who has contributed far more to the blurring of fact and invention than the author of "A Million Little Pieces."