The Clinton campaign rejected comments by a journalist who accused Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died July 2, of “inciting hatred” and “defending apartheid.”
“Secretary Clinton emphatically rejects these offensive, hateful and patently absurd statements about Elie Wiesel,” Jake Sullivan, a policy adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, said in a statement shared with JTA on Wednesday. “She believes they are wrong in all senses of the term.”
The statement was in response to a series of tweets over the weekend by anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal. Although Blumenthal has no connection to the Clinton campaign, he is the son of Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime confidant and adviser to the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate. The connection is mentioned frequently by other journalists when writing about Max Blumenthal.
Just hours after Wiesel’s death on Saturday, Max Blumenthal wrote a flurry of tweets insisting Wiesel should not be be honored because of his unwavering support for Israel.
“Elie Wiesel is dead. He spent his last years inciting hatred, defending apartheid & palling around with fascists,” Blumenthal wrote.
“Elie Wiesel went from a victim of war crimes to a supporter of those who commit them. He did more harm than good and should not be honored.”
In his response, Sullivan said Blumenthal and others “should cease and desist” from criticizing the Auschwitz survivor and author.
“Elie Wiesel was a hero to her as he was to so many, and she will keep doing everything she can to honor his memory and to carry his message forward,” Sullivan wrote of Clinton.
Responding to the campaign’s statement, Max Blumenthal accused Clinton of remaining silent when Wiesel accused Palestinians of “ritual child sacrifice.” He was referring to an advertisement in 2014 by The Jewish Values Network in which Wiesel spoke out against Hamas and allegations that it had intentionally placed munitions and fighters in areas near children.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who heads The Jewish Values Network, has called Blumenthal an “informal adviser” to Clinton, which the campaign categorically denies.
Blumenthal’s tweets were echoed by other critics of Israel, including Dorothy Reik, president of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains and a member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee. In an email posted on social media, Reik wrote that she agreed with Blumenthal’s tweets about Wiesel, adding, “I had met people who made their livings from the holocaust [sic] but never to the extent that Wiesel did.”
In a letter to the chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Southwest regional director, Amanda Susskind, wrote that the ADL was “deeply disturbed” by Reik’s email and urged the party to “denounce these repugnant sentiments.”