An open letter to author Elie Wiesel regarding Gaza

Dear Mr. Wiesel,

First time I read Night, your memoir that describes your horrific experiences during the Holocaust, was in 2003. In my opinion, two books everyone in the world should read are Night and Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom.

I also suffered in my childhood. In 1992, my life was turned upside down when the civil war broke out in Bosnia, my country. At this time, I was thirteen and my sister was eleven.

My family is Serbian and we stayed in our city, Gorazde, which was held under siege by the Serbian forces. Overnight, many of our Muslim neighbors and even some friends began seeing us as the enemy. For two years, my family endured treatment that no human being should ever be subjected to. We were shot at, terrorized, put in a detention camp, starved, and eventually stripped of everything we owned. All this because of our ethnicity.

When I was seventeen, I almost killed a man who had attempted to kill my family during the war. After years of emotional struggle when I considered revenge as the only way to move on with my life, I was blessed to get involved in a youth program designed to help young people in Bosnia to become leaders in their communities. I worked with “former enemies” and this helped me open up my mind.

Over the years, yours and Nelson Mandela’s books, experiences, and work for peace made me think about my wartime experience and subsequently led me to a complete personal transformation.

I went from a teenager seeking retribution to a person seeking healing, reconciliation, and peace. I wrote about my wartime experience and search for peace and reconciliation in Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia, published in March 2008 by AMACOM Books.

I found somewhere a quote where you say: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

I completely agree with you.

I tried to find an Op-Ed, an interview, a statement made by you, in which you say something about the current conflict in Gaza and condemn the killings of innocent people.

I couldn't find anything.

Like you, I dedicated my life to peace building and conflict transformation and management worldwide and promised to never be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.

I am not influential like you, but I still do everything I can to voice my opinion. I write and publish articles. Over the years, I wrote extensively about Rwanda, Darfur, Zimbabwe, and other places where people suffer.

I'm currently writing about the crisis in Gaza and condemning killing of over 300 innocent Palestinian children who were brutally murdered by the Israeli forces in three weeks.

Will you?

Savo Heleta

Savo Heleta is the author of Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia (March 2008, AMACOM Books, New York) and a postgraduate student in Conflict Transformation and Management at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.




Jan 17, 2009 at 12:59am

More then 10.000 rockets launched at Israel's cities in the last 8 years since Israel withdrew every civilian and soldier from Gaza in 2005, are a good reason for Israel to react. So, you can repeat those propaganda slogans that were created by this fascist Islamic organization called Hamas, but the Israelies have left Gaza in 2005, so they have now no excuse to fire anything. But this people are Muslim fanatics who want everyone, including moderate Muslims to live under Sharia law. They want to impose Islam in the world. They are partners with the other fascist Islamic group in the north of Israel called Hezbollah. This is the same terrorist group who bombed the AMIA (Jewish mutual) in Bs As Argentina killing 85 people. Are the Argentineans guilty of opresing anyone in the Middle East? The other thing that amazes me is that I don’t see anyone demonstrating in the streets about the genocide taking place in Darfur, Sudan were thousands of people are being murdered. Or the hundreds that are being killed in Kenya by the government and hundreds more who will die because the government does not accept help to their Malaria crisis. Or the persecution and killings of Christians in Somalia by Muslims (A 14 yo muslim girl was stoned to death accused of adultery after she was raped) yep, that is what Sharia law is all about. Just to name a few. My question is: Are all the other conflicts in the world, were so many innocent human beings are directly a target, not worth complaining about???

I think that there is someone who can answer this; her name is Pilar Rahola she was born in Barcelona into a family with strong Republican and anti-Fascist convictions. - PhD in Hispanic Philology and Catalan Philology. She was a member of the Spanish Parliament for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya.

Here is her web site:

Read this article that I think has the answer to my question:


Jan 17, 2009 at 11:50am

First, Israel planned the brutal, illegal attack on Gaza 18 months ago and it has nothing to do with rockets. Just read the on-line Israeli newspapers to confirm that fact.

Elie Weisel has lost all credibility but other Israelis and Jews around the world are brave enough to choose justice over tribal loyalty.

Google Israeli professor Ilan Pappe and see what he has to say about the documented Israeli "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinians.

Check YouTube for interviews with Israeli Jeff Halper. He states that Israel has destroyed over 18,000 Palestinian homes.

Read how the former Israeli legislator Uri Avnery describes Israel as a blood-stained monster.

Check YouTube and listen to Israeli attorney Allegra Pacheco outline the insincere peace offer Israel made at the end of the Clinton administration.

Find the Israeli peace group that has documented the Israeli murder of over 1,300 Arab children.

Watch the American Jewish scholar Norman Finkelstein rip apart the claims that Israel is interested in peace.

There are good Israelis and Jews speaking up against Israel's ongoing crime of genocide against the Palestinian people, Elie Weisel is just not one of them.