Elie Wiesel’s Homecoming

Twenty years after he and his fellow Jews were deported from the Transylvanian town of Sighet, Elie Wiesel, who died this past Saturday at eighty-seven, returned to his birthplace. Here is the 1965 essay he wrote on his visit:

The Jews’ Street, once so lively and noisy, is now deserted. Its name has been changed. It is called the Street of the Deported. Who deported whom? A question devoid of interest or importance. No one asks it. The past is buried. People must live. And above all, they must forget. I met my old elementary-school teacher: my name meant nothing to him. I spoke to a neighbor who used to come to us every day of the week: she did not remember me. Someday some worthy citizen will glance at the name of the business street and say quite innocently: “The Street of Deported? I seem to recall that they were Jews.” He will not be sure. Even today he is not sure. The Jews deported from Sighet did not belong to Sighet. They belonged to some other place, some other planet. They were strangers. If the Jews were to come back, they would be driven away again.

Had it not ever been thus? No doubt it had, but I had been too young at the time to understand it. The population had always thought that Jews did not become strangers, they were born that way. Only, these peaceful inhabitants go further than that. Today, for them, I am not even a stranger robbed of his childhood, not even a phantom in search of memories. Have they forgotten everything? No. Rather, they give the impression of having nothing to forget. There never were any Jews in Sighet, the former capital of the celebrated region of Maramures.

Thus, the Jews have been driven not only out of the town but out of time as well.

Read more at Commentary

More about: East European Jewry, Elie Wiesel, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Hungarian Jewry

Iran’s President May Be Dead. What Next?

At the moment, Hizballah’s superiors in Tehran probably aren’t giving much thought to the militia’s next move. More likely, they are focused on the fact that their country’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, along with the foreign minister, may have been killed in a helicopter crash near the Iran-Azerbaijan border. Iranians set off fireworks to celebrate the possible death of this man known as “butcher of Tehran” for his role in executing dissidents. Shay Khatiri explains what will happen next:

If the president is dead or unable to perform his duties for longer than two months, the first vice-president, the speaker of the parliament, and the chief justice, with the consent of the supreme leader, form a council to choose the succession mechanism. In effect, this means that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will decide [how to proceed]. Either a new election is called, or Khamenei will dictate that the council chooses a single person to avoid an election in time of crisis.

Whatever happens next, however, Raisi’s “hard landing” will mark the first chapter in a game of musical chairs that will consume the Islamic Republic for months and will set the stage not only for the post-Raisi era, but the post-Khamenei one as well.

As for the inevitable speculation that Raisi’s death wasn’t an accident: everything I have read so far suggests that it was. Still, that its foremost enemy will be distracted by a succession struggle is good news for Israel. And it wouldn’t be terrible if Iran’s leaders suspect that the Mossad just might have taken out Raisi. For all their rhetoric about martyrdom, I doubt they relish the prospect of becoming martyrs themselves.

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Mossad