Jun. 10, 2013
By The Associated Press (Excerpts)
Leon Wieseltier has long maintained a close relationship with the state of Israel. But the Jewish-American author now fears the country’s survival may be in jeopardy — and says much of the blame lies with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Wieseltier, 60, the child of Holocaust survivors and a fluent Hebrew speaker, is a widely respected, if contentious, intellectual and philosopher. He has been the literary editor of The New Republic for three decades, where his essays contribute to national conversations on current affairs. He is also the winner of the 1998 National Jewish Book Award for “Kaddish,” his meditation on the ancient Jewish prayer of mourning.
“Unless there is a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there will not be a Jewish state for very long,” Wieseltier said in an interview at Tel Aviv University after accepting the $1 million Dan David Prize late Sunday for his contributions to ideas and contemporary philosophy.
“One of the most shameful aspects of the Netanyahu government has been to succeed in taking the Palestinian question off the table,” said Wieseltier.
Wieseltier said he also blamed Palestinian leaders for the stalemate, particularly for allowing the resignation of the respected Palestinian economist Salam Fayyad from his position as prime minister.
“Nobody lifted a finger to help Salam Fayyad, who was the Palestinian leader we were all waiting for. No Palestinians and no Israelis. He came and went. It’s a historical scandal of the first magnitude,” Wieseltier said.
He said he would try visit the Palestinian territories. In the meantime, Wieseltier said he was enjoying Israel, despite its many flaws.
“I feel perfectly at home here,” he said.
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