News

Nobel laureate Wiesel not injured following attack

Mary Anne Ostrom
San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace-prize-winning Holocaust survivor and scholar, was grabbed and pulled out of a San Francisco hotel elevator last week - and now police and Jewish groups are mounting a intensive search for his attacker.

A blogger boasted about the Feb. 1 incident on an anti-Zionist Web site based in Australia on Wednesday, prompting the first media reports. The blogger claimed he had been trailing Wiesel for weeks and wrote he intended to get "a cornered Wiesel" to come to his room and renounce the Holocaust on video. The posting also suggests the attacker was seeking publicity from the attack on the 78-year-old Wiesel.

Wiesel, a respected human rights activist, strong supporter of Israel and author of more than 40 fiction and non-fiction books, was in San Francisco to speak at a forum on conflict resolution. Of his books, he is best known for "Night," a memoir of his experience in Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

On Friday, San Francisco police described Wiesel's attacker as a white man in his 20s. A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League, which is working to identify the attacker, said police believe the man is from the East Coast, not the Bay Area.

Wiesel was unharmed, and police were called shortly after the 6:30 p.m. altercation. Wiesel told police he was in an elevator, heading back to his room at the Argent Hotel, when a young man asked Wiesel if he could interview him about the Holocaust. Wiesel said yes, but suggested they go to the lobby. The attacker insisted that Wiesel go with him to his room and then grabbed Wiesel, pulling him out of the elevator and dragging him into the hall.

"Mr. Wiesel started screaming and was able to run away," San Francisco police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said. Wiesel went to the lobby and police were called. Police then gave Wiesel a ride to the airport.

A Feb. 7 posting on ZioPedia.org, attributed to an Eric Hunt, describes a similar incident. Police have refused to identify a suspect. The Anti-Defamation League said a daylong search Friday turned up no Eric Hunt connected to anti-Semitic Web postings and that the name did not appear in files the organization keeps of those whom it considers to be potential extremists.

The Hunt posting reads: "I had planned to bring Wiesel to my hotel room, where he would truthfully answer my questions regarding the fact that his non-fiction Holocaust memoir, Night, is almost entirely fictitious."

And it adds that he "planned on either getting Wiesel into my custody, with a cornered Wiesel finally forced to state the truth on videotape, getting arrested, or fleeing, and either way exposing . . . a genocidal liar."

He also complained that Wiesel "never called the police." Police were called but did not put out a news release.

Neither Wiesel, in New York City, nor his representatives could be reached for comment Friday.

Jonathan Bernstein, a spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League's local chapter, said the organization's researchers have been scouring the web for any clues to Eric Hunt's identity, but so far have come up empty.

Bernstein said ZioPedia is a well-known forum for anti-Semitic views. Calls and an e-mail to the site's registered owner, Andrew Winkler, who has been described as a founder of the Sydney-based Rebel Media Group - the non-profit organization behind the blog - were not returned.

Bernstein said his group finds the Hunt posting "a little bit odd."

The posting appears to be written by someone "who is rather knowledgeable about the Holocaust denial movement, and not someone in his 20s." His speculation is that the posting may have been written by someone else using the attacker's account of the San Francisco incident.

Bernstein said the Hunt posting echoed writings of Robert Faurisson, a Frenchman who is considered to be Europe's leading anti-Holocaust scholar.

Bernstein said he could not recall any publicized incident of Wiesel being accosted previously.

"Security is kind of an issue for someone like Wiesel," said Bernstein, adding of Holocaust deniers: "He embodies everything they are against."

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Film

Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.

Film

The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Music

2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Music

Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.

Music

Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.

Music

Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.

Music

Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.

Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.