Abusing Elie Wiesel at Durban II

One of the fruits of the Durban II circus is a brief, appalling video of someone described as "a member of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's entourage" verbally abusing author, Nobel Prize winner, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. In the incident, which took place Tuesday, the Iranian's form of verbal abuse is simple and consists of bellowing the word "Zionazi" over and over again at the stunned and silent 80-year-old, who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald as a teenager while his mother and sister died in the former camp and his father in the latter one.

A few observations about this horrific incident:

1. The bellowing Iranian clearly takes sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain on Wiesel and can't get enough of it. And the Iranian is an acolyte of a totalitarian ideology, Islamism, which -- like Nazism and communism before it -- largely consists of organized sadism with ideological underpinnings. The sadism intrinsic to the totalitarian mindset is vividly on display in the video.

2. At the same time, the Iranian deeply believes in what he is saying; he believes that Wiesel, as a "Zionist," is a member of a Satanic people and fully deserves the pain and humiliation of being equated with his peoples' archenemy. The Iranian has no doubt or ambivalence, no postmodern ennui or relativism, to enervate him in his frenzied fervor.

3. The type of abuse the Iranian levels at Wiesel is, so far as I know, a kind directed only at Jews. Cambodians are not told that they are Khmer Rouge members; Darfur victims aren't called Janjaweed tribesmen. Only Jews are now regularly and ritually identified with their slaughterers. In the case of someone like Wiesel, who is himself a survivor who lost his immediate family, the level of psychological abuse is draconian.

4.  Although calling Wiesel a Nazi, the Iranian in the video can be safely assumed to be a Holocaust denier -- especially as a follower of Ahmadinejad, for whom Holocaust denial is an obsessive theme and under whose auspices a conference dedicated to it was held in Tehran in December 2006. The combination of Holocaust denial with using the word Nazi -- especially against Israel and Jews -- as the blackest epithet is by now so widespread in the Arab and Muslim world that it no longer is recognized as illogical. Logic dissolves before the imperative of inflicting as much pain on the demonic enemy -- Israel and Jews -- as possible, whether by saying that the genocide of the Jews did not occur or that the Jews themselves are the genocidists.