Elie Wiesel, the Nazi concentration camp survivor who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, showed little inclination this week to make peace with accused swindler Bernie Madoff, whom he called "one of the greatest scoundrels, thieves, liars, criminals."Whoa...dude, there's your mistake right there!
"Could I forgive him? No," the 80-year-old told a panel assembled Thursday by Conde Nast's Portfolio Magazine at New York's 21 Club to discuss Madoff, whose alleged victims included Wiesel and his foundation, The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
"To forgive, first of all, would mean that he would come on his knees and ask for forgiveness," the Auschwitz survivor said. "He wouldn't do that."
...Wiesel said a wealthy friend who has known Madoff for 50 years introduced them. The two men met twice over dinner, and Wiesel checked with financial experts whom he trusted before investing all of his and his wife's personal money.
Then, once Madoff had gained his trust, Wiesel invested all $15.2 million that his foundation had amassed, he said.
"We thought he was God, we trusted everything in his hands," the Boston University humanities professor said.
Wiesel rejected the suggestion that "affinity fraud," the tendency for people to trust others of similar background, played any role in leaving him vulnerable to Madoff. Both men are Jewish.Mmm hmm. It's not the Jewishness, it's the inhumanity. Madoff acted like he was god, believing he could go around depriving people of their livelihoods. And even though Elie Wiesel says himself he believed Madoff actually *was* god, that does not justify what Bernie did, because he was supposed to be a GOOD god, and not deprive "certain people." So you see, this has nothing to do with "affinity fraud," because Bernie did not properly display his affinity.
"It's not the Jewishness in him, it's the inhumanity in this man who simply believed he can go around depriving people of their livelihoods. What he has done to certain people, it breaks my heart," he said.
"At the end, he went down to swindle thousands and thousands of people, and hurt thousands and thousands of people. Take our little foundation. My wife takes care of 1,000 Ethiopian children in Israel. What he does to them -- we were going to open a third center in Jerusalem. We cannot do it now. What [he has] done to others, to hospitals, to educational institutions, my God! Didn't he think?"
Wiesel said he is planning legal action against Madoff but called for the federal government to bail out charities just as it has bailed out carmakers and banks.
"I think it would be a great gesture that the Obama administration should show, we really think of those who are helpless and who are doing with their money only good things."
Wow, kind of like imprison him in a sort of Financial Holocaust (TM) Museum! I get it! That's a great idea. No waterboarding or anything, just the torture of listening to his victims complaining incessantly, "Look what you did to me!" You know, that is fucking torture.
Wiesel offered a punishment he would like to see meted out to the financier, who is under house arrest but has not been indicted.
"I would like him to be in a solitary cell with a screen, and on that screen, for at least five years of his life, every day and every night there should be pictures of his victims, one after the other after the other, always saying, 'Look, look what you have done to this poor lady, look what you have done to this child, look what you have done.'
"But nothing else -- he should not be able to avoid those faces, for years to come. This is only a minimum punishment."