There are jihads, and there are jihads, but this one takes the cake.
A week ago Friday, after participating in a panel discussion about "Facing Violence," which also featured former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, at a downtown San Francisco hotel, best-selling author, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel was dragged from the elevator, on the sixth floor, by a Holocaust denying stalker who identified himself only as "Eric Hunt" in a post to the Web site Ziopedia in which he took responsibility for this appaling act. Fortunately, the 78 year old author was unharmed, but questions remain as to why release of the assault, on February 1st, was put on hold until February 8th. There are also unresolved issue about who hides behind the nom de plume, Eric Hunt, the assailant, who, to date, has yet to be found despite the conclusion by SFPD that this is a hate crime.
This is not the first time Mr. Wiesel has faced violence. He survived Auschwitz and now. when he returns to teach at Boston University, he can say he has survived San Francisco, too; well, not quite. After all, we're talking about the Bay Area, the apotheosis of blue state, liberal, progressive, free speech movement; the home of Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee, Jerry Brown, Ron Dellums. What madness that such a vile act should occur in what many consider the bastion of all that is new left in this country.
Clearly, it's unfair, and ludicrous, to imply that this attack has anything to do with San Francisco as a city. For all we know, this Hunt fellow is from Orange County, or the Bronx. We know nothing about him other than what appears in his absurdist comments on an anti-Zionist Web site. What we do know is that he was stalking Elie Wiesel for weeks and, under the pretext of wanting to inteview him, tried to force Wiesel into an empty room while screaming "Why don't you want people to know the truth?" Which truth did Mr. Hunt have in mind? As his post later asserts, he wanted Elie Wiesel to admit that the Holocaust was a "myth," a fabrication like weapons of mass destruction, just another work of fiction; no such luck. The author's loud shrieks caused this two-bit coward to flee with his proverbial tail between his legs.
I wondered what kind of Web site would welcome the comments of someone like Eric Hunt, so I decided to pay a little visit to Ziopedia and found that it is a Web site based in Sydney, Australia with the disclaimer that given their "highly critical attitude towards Zionism in general, and Israel in particular, it doesn't come as a surprise" that they are being called "wildly anti-Semitic." Curiously, they also describe themselves as "antiwar" and "progressive." A quick perusal of a list of recent titles of articles posted on their site reveals the following: "In the olden days, an anti-Semite was someone who hated Jews; these days, it's someone the Jews hate," "Judaism is Nobody's Friend," "Poll: 40% of U.S. voters believe Israel Lobby is key factor in going to war in Iraq," as well as an editorial which suggests that those who buy Starbucks coffee are supporting Israel. Obviously, our friends at Ziopedia make some huge leaps in assuming that 1) Judaism and Zionism are the same, 2) every Israeli is a Zionist, and/or Jew, and 3) their position is a "progressive" one. And, here I thought, all along, that it was American left that was reactionary when it came to their position on the bogey man "Israel Lobby," but at which point does the far left and the far right intersect?
As one who believes in socialized medicine, state-subsidized housing, caps on the acquisition of vast amounts of wealth and private property, a liveable wage, as well as other things that are considered to far to the left, I have to ask whether or not anyone can call himself "antiwar" and socially progressive while, at the same time, dragging an elderly man from a hotel elevator, like a piece of meat, with SS-like brutality? Is this emblematic of a "peace" movement that's here to stay? Is it okay to treat a Jew like this, and then condemn U.S. treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay?
Those who denounce Zionism, and blame the Jews for the war in Iraq, have their own little jihadist movement going which, after last Friday, can no longer be denied. When a man who survived the camps is disgraced by this kind of brute force, and arrogance, it must be a wake up call that we, on the left, need to ask if talk about AIPAC, and the "Israel Lobby," justifiably or otherwise, may be seen as a contributing factor. And, if so, what can we do to prevent an assault like this from happening on someone else? The fact that he screamed may have been the only thing that prevented the Nobel Prize winner from suffering a heinous beating. We need to ask if ideological brutality is more acceptable in the hands of a sophomoric philistine who thinks he's getting at the "truth" about the Holocaust than it is in the hands of a president who believes he takes direction from a "higher authority?"
One would think, after six years of George Bush, we would have had enough of ideologues, but this sociopathic gesture in the name of correcting history proves only that there are too many holy wars, of all stripes, for one planet at any one period of time. There are too many who are willing to embrace a jihad, but few willing to clean up after one.
No one can deny that our thoughts have consequences, not just our actions. In this case, one man's ideas about what he believes to be the fabrication of Jewish genocide resulted in an unprovoked attack on a man who has already been assaulted more than anyone deserves to be. The spineless bastard who did this should be an instant pariah among all those who believe that truth, peace, and justice are not antiquated notions, as well as those who fought the good fight for civil rights, and free speech in this country, and continue to fight. Does one have to be left to be right and, after all is said and done, is this what is left of the left ---leftovers from the days of the Weimar Republic?
We'd like to think that what happened in a San Francisco hotel, last Friday, was the act of a zealot, and a very disturbed one, but history shows that most acts of barbarism come at the hands of disturbed zealots, so we have to own this Hunt bastard. He belongs to all of us. He is our son, our brother, our neighbor, our student, our friend as, whether our worldviews are left, right, or center, whether we are in Sydney, London, or San Francisco, one thing remains constant: there are those who hunt, and those who are hunted,. And, when those who hunt infiltrate the ranks of those who condemn violence and acts of aggression, it's time to take a long, hard look at how it is that this monster came to be, so we can stop him from replicating fast.