click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Confronting Iran

Confronting Iran

The UN must expel Ahmadinejad's murderous regime, says one of the world's leading moral voices.


Those among us who thought that the victory of allied democracies in 1945 would mark the end of hate and state-sponsored racism were naive. What remains in human memory as the most cruel of conflicts changed neither human nature nor peoples' ambition. Religious wars, political dictatorships, ethnic clashes, sectarian, cultural and economic crises: Their impact affects us all pretty much everywhere on the planet. Our world is still the target of more than one threat. Such is life, that everything comes full circle to start over again.

Yet even in the domain of evil, differences and degrees exist. Certain dictators are worse than others, and their hateful actions have consequences more dangerous.

For the reader who has not yet guessed, I am speaking of the current president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: More than so many others who abuse their position if not their power, this one represents the darkest of political action.

Ridiculing historical truths, offending the memory of survivors still alive, he glorifies the act of lying: As the No. 1 Holocaust denier in the world, an anti-Semite with a disturbed mind, he claims that Hitler's "Final Solution" never happened. He even had a large international exhibition of anti-Holocaust cartoons mounted in Tehran. Several hundred cartoonists participated. When asked about the future, the exhibition organizer states that the project will continue as long as the Jewish state has not been destroyed.

And who will destroy it? On this point, President Ahmadinejad is not afraid to clarify his view: Iran will take the lead. As soon as this Muslim country has acquired a nuclear weapon, the first bombs will be launched on Israel. And he has not ceased to repeat this threat.

I belong to a generation that learned to take the enemy's words of hate seriously.

Consider it this way: According to him, there was no Holocaust in the past, but there is sure to be one and it is on the way. Scandalous rumblings of a fanatic? Yes, but this fanatic addresses crowds that like his ideas and applaud them. Just empty words? No. This orator does not speak for nothing. He seems rather committed to keeping his "promises." It would be wrong to question his determination. A person does not just preach hate for nothing. Isn't his goal to break the heart and snuff the life of anyone who does not think like him? As for me, I belong to a generation that learned to take the enemy's words of hate seriously.

And lest we forget, who is behind the Hezbollah terrorist organization? Iran. Iran sends them the most modern weapons and officers to train their soldiers. But what does Hezbollah want? Territorial concessions? No. The creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with the Jewish state? No. The sole objective of this movement - and of the Iranian president - is the destruction of Israel.

This is why I maintain that such a figure does not have a place within the community of international leaders. Persona non grata, an undesirable individual, this is what he should become, because of what he is doing to his country, to his people, to all of humanity. This is why he deserves to be turned away everywhere. I'll go even further: The country he leads and embodies should be excluded from the United Nations as long as he is its ruler and symbol. On what grounds? It is quite simple: One member state of the United Nations that threatens to destroy another member state of these same United Nations violates its very charter and conventions.

Is something like this possible? I am not naive enough to believe that this could really happen. What state would introduce such a UN resolution? And how many delegates would vote to adopt it? I know all too well: very few. But at least they won't feel so comfortable in their fear. At least they'll learn from lessons of the not-so-distant past: We know with whom a dictator will begin; but he will not stop there. If Iran were to have a nuclear weapon, do we really think that Israel would remain its only target?

Some will say: What about North Korea? Why aren't we doing something about them? Don't they have the same atomic ambitions? Yes, they do. But there is still quite a difference. North Korea has never threatened to wipe away another state.

Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, is author of "Night" and winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. This article, written for the Daily News, was translated from the French by Jamie Moore.

December 2, 2006

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 34

(32) Steve, March 8, 2016 8:07 PM

Be prepared !

Pray and keep our powder dry !

(31) Steve Cordova, June 11, 2012 5:12 AM

Pay attention to the News

Another reason to be hopeful is that Iran's closest alley - Assad - doesn't have much time left. Action is at hand.

(30) Steve Cordova, June 11, 2012 4:55 AM

Perplexed - ?

When I read from the Torah and the Talmud I often find that there is a lot of wisdom that I can apply to a better understanding to my life. I hear Jewish religious teachers saying some really interesting things that I find really interesting. Then I get hit with a reality that I don't find that common with a lot of other religious teachers - I find that there are Jewish religious teachers that often promote war against Iran. I can understand this kind of talk coming from Military leaders, but it kind of draws me back when I hear religious teachers talking and writing this way. I know that Ahmadinejad is a scary figure, and that he says some horrible things and makes threats frequently, but what about the rest of the Iranian people? Ahmadinejad is only one man, and although there are Iranians who may share his view I am sure that there are plenty of Iranians who don't want problems with Israel. Eventually Ahmadinejad will need to be pressured through inner political pressure and social change to leave office, but if Israel attacks on the presumption that they may have Nuclear weapons, and it turns out to be a lie then this is the type of military act will not only strengthen support from Iranians to the Ahmadinejad regime (many of whom may actually oppose him), and prove to the rest of the Middle East that Israel is a grave threat. You attack Iran and you will not prevent a dangerous prophecy from occurring - instead you will be making it happen. Be patient in take heed in what I tell you for I am not just another person giving an opinion - I am the "one"

(29) Michael, October 16, 2010 9:09 PM

Addressing #24 somecoat

When Ahmadinejad says repeatedly that he is going to wipe Israel off the map, and the like, how do you think he plans to achieve this, with a fire cracker? You don't just have to get your facts right, you have to use your brain too!

(28) hopey5000, February 8, 2007 9:42 PM

Bush has done everything to embolden Iran

Bush has been the best friend of radical Islam; the movement has broadened and flourished because of his incompetence and actions.

In 2002, it would have made sense for the US to take out both Iraq and Iran. We had the muscle, motive (9/11) and few would have opposed us. The U.S.'s foolish policy of isolating Arafat (all those who liked the idea did we get someone better), antangonizing moderates, and making this a Christian v. Islam war has drastically diminished US influence. Today people would regard the US as a Christian war and organize Muslem countries in opposition.

Israel can take out Iran; I dont think people would mind. But Bush's completely foolish policy has made this a much tougher option for the US.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment