Rabbi Marvin Hier has been the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) since its establishment in 1977. The SWC is headquartered in Los Angeles and is named after the famous Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal. According to its mission statement, it is “an international Jewish human rights organization dedicated to repairing the world one step at a time.” In 2007 and 2008 Rabbi Hier was named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek. NewsRealBlog had the pleasure of interviewing him.
NewsRealBlog: Do you feel that Jews are under pressure for supporting Israel in dictatorial regimes such as Venezuela?
Marvin Hier: The bottom line is that Jews are under pressure, cannot fully express themselves as a Jew, and can only practice their religion if they remain neutral about Israel. The official line is that Zionism is poison. If you are a Zionist you are certainly not a persona non grata.
NRB: Is Chavez anti-Semitic?
Hier: He certainly hates Israel, hates America, and hates Zionism. He is the President of a country that blames America and Israel for all the evils of the world. He has made it very difficult for Jews, especially those Jews who want to be supportive of Israel.
NRB: Turkey used to be an ally of Israel but it appears they are allying more with people like Chavez. Why?
Hier: Turkey has become an Islamic state over the past few years. Some of those passengers were members of a terrorist group (IHH).
NRB: Why is Turkey so involved with the flotilla incident?
Hier: Turkey in the last few years has invested heavily in the port of Gaza. The European Community rejected Turkey to be a part of it so they now want to be a major power in the Middle East.
NRB: Do you think the press is reporting the incident fairly?
Hier: When a story is presented the full context should be presented so the audience will at least know how this came about. From the New York Times to everybody else they have short circuited the story and want to tell the end without the beginning.
NRB: Do you briefly want to tell the readers the beginning?
Hier: In 2004 Ariel Sharon (former Prime Minister of Israel) decided to end Israel’s presence in Gaza and unilaterally withdrew all forces. Then there was an election where the terrorist organization Hamas was chosen. Their Constitution says that Israel should be destroyed. Hamas sponsored terrorist attacks and fired rockets into Israel. To stop the flow of weapons Israel imposed a blockade.
NRB: What was the ultimate goal of the supposed humanitarians?
Hier: They want to FORCE Israel to end the embargo so they can do in the South what Hezbollah has done in the North, to accumulate a large amount of rockets.
NRB: What should those supporting Israel do?
Hier: Ask the question, where were the flotillas to defend Israel?
NRB: You want to elaborate?
Hier: Aren’t there any humanitarians interested in getting on a boat and helping the victims of terrorism, those in Israel. It’s a very one way street. Why aren’t the so called humanitarians willing to force Hamas to allow Gilad Shalit’s parents to see him or to help get him released?
NRB: Do you think Israel is losing the public relations campaign?
Hier: Yes. Israel should be emphasizing that no one ever sent a flotilla to help them.
NRB: What would you like to say to the press?
Hier: The only time you will see a friendly press is if Israel was invaded and in danger of losing its statehood. You would see a friendly press delivering the eulogies.