Though we have not met often, you and I have known each other for more than 30 years, ever since the late 1960s when we worked together for Soviet Jewry.
I feel I know what animates you. So, I am writing to ask you to do something that, of all 6 billion souls on earth, only you can do.
As you, the quintessential student of human evil, so well know, it is far easier for individuals to do great evil than to do great good. It took only Hitler and a few other Nazis to set in motion the program that led to the slaughter of almost every Jew in Europe. Likewise, just one young fanatic strapped with bombs can obliterate whole families.
But you are in a position to do a good that is far more powerful than any suicide terrorist’s evil. With one action you can shed light on a world, especially Europe, which has once again decided to acquiesce in Jew-hatred so deep that it could lead to another Holocaust.
You can do this by giving back your Nobel Peace Prize.
You are so much better than the committee that gives that prize – not to mention better than many of its recipients (Yasser Arafat and the United Nations come to mind) – that the Nobel Peace Prize gains far more stature from you keeping it than you gain by keeping it.
What do you achieve by returning your prize?
First of all, you are blowing the whistle on the moral corruption at the heart of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Aside from giving the award to an increasing number of morally dubious recipients, members of that committee have recently announced that they wish they could take back the peace prize from a Middle Eastern leader. Is it Yasser Arafat, the godfather of modern terror, the man who has ensured misery for his people, bloodshed everywhere he has been (e.g., Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank), and led a revival of anti-Semitism in the Arab world unseen since Nazism?
No, the Nobel Prize committee loves Yasser Arafat. It is Shimon Peres, whom you know to be an utterly decent, peace-loving, social democrat, whom the Nobel committee regards as unworthy of its peace prize.
By keeping the Nobel Peace Prize, you legitimize the Nobel committee’s attacks on a good man and its defense of a bad one.
Elie, the Jewish people are in business to smash false idols. Some Jews have been doing so for millennia – and the Jews have paid a horrific price for it. But that is the Jews’ task. I know you identify with this role. When you objected to President Ronald Reagan’s planned visit to Bitburg, the German cemetery where Nazi SS men were buried, you said you felt compelled to “speak truth to power.” Speak it now.
You also said then that President Reagan did not belong in the company of those buried at Bitburg. You, Elie, do not belong in the company of the Nobel Prize committee or many of its recipients.
Your returning the Nobel Peace Prize would also serve in a uniquely effective way to shine a light on Europe’s darkness. Its values, Elie, are not ours – not as Americans nor as Jews. Nothing would make this point more obvious than an American Jew returning Europe’s highest prize.
Elie, the awesome burden of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust has been placed on your shoulders. Here is your greatest opportunity to tell the world that Europe has learned little. It either appeased or actively abetted evil in the 1930s and ’40s. It is doing the same now. It abandoned the Jews to fanatical anti-Semitism then. It is abandoning the Jews to fanatical anti-Semitism now.
You alone have the world’s ear to say this.
What is being asked of you is not easy. So perhaps this will make it easier. If you could consult with the Jews you left behind in the ovens of Europe, what do you think they would advise?