Middletown, CT – Elie Wiesel Opposes Death Penalty in Connecticut Home-Invasion Murders

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    Middletown, CT – The sole survivor of the Cheshire home invasion killings, William Petit, did not attend Elie Wiesel’s lecture on capital punishment at Wesleyan University, but for a few minutes the Nazi death camp survivor spoke as if the man who lost his wife and daughters was his only audience.

    “Your wound is open,” Wiesel said. “It will remain. You are mourning, and how can I not feel the pain of your mourning? But death is not the answer.”

    During the Nobel Peace laureate’s Tuesday, Oct. 26, lecture, the 82-year-old author and human rights activist said that if the death penalty could bring back victims, maybe he would change his stance. He did allow that murderers should be punished more harshly than other prisoners.

    “They should get hard labor,” he said.

    “Death is not the answer” became the refrain for Wiesel, as he wondered aloud what could be done to help survivors of violent crimes, “so that families will not feel cheated by the law.”

    The Romanian native spoke with authority, having lost both parents and a sister in Nazi death camps. He escaped Buchenwald in April 1945 when it was liberated by soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 6th Armored Division.

    “I know,” he said. “I know the pain of those who survive. Believe me, I know.”

    Wiesel spoke in the university’s Memorial Chapel, which was packed with about 400 students, professors and invited guests. In simple, lyrical language that carried the lilt of his Eastern European beginnings, he defended his anti-death penalty position using stories from the past.

    In the Biblical story of Adam’s two sons Cain and Abel, Cain is said to have asked God, after he had killed his brother and God wondered about Abel’s whereabouts, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    “I think it wanted to teach us that whoever kills, kills his brother,” Wiesel said.
    Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters were murderd in gruesome 2007 home invasion, Dr. Petit, was the sole survivor
    In Israel, where there is no capital punishment, the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960 posed a dilemma. Should someone who engineered millions of deaths be executed?

    “Luckily, they didn’t ask my opinion,” Wiesel said, eliciting laughter.

    Eichmann was hanged in 1962, but he was an exception.

    “The law remains the law,” Wiesel said. “Terrorists came in, killed hundreds of people, not one of them was executed.”

    Wiesel’s hour-long speech was punctuated with two standing ovations from students and visitors who had snapped up tickets within hours of the announcement he would visit.

    Near the end of the lecture, someone asked, “What will happen when there are no more Holocaust survivors?”

    Wiesel said he hopes he is not the last to die. He also said the Holocaust would not be forgotten.

    “I do believe with all my heart,” he said, “that to listen to a survivor, to listen to a witness, is to become a witness.”

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    23 COMMENTS

    1. While I respect Mr. Wiesel needs to keep his mouth shut……..
      These two animals shut be put to death as quickly as possible.
      This will allow for healing for Mr. Petit knowing that the scum who destroyed
      his family are dead.
      Mr. Wiesel needs to focus on Nazi’s and not this crime…….

    2. Elie Wiesel is dead wrong in his opposition to imposing the death penalty on convicted First Degree murderers, especially such as those two home invaders who had, with such brutal callousness tortured and killed their victims. And there were no mitigating factors in their entire crime spree. Elie Wiesel should not attempt to make any comparisons to victims of the Holocaust. He may be an Ultra-Liberal. But he can’t be magnanimous where Law and Order are concerned.

    3. With what moral authority does Mr. Wiesel make his pronouncements?

      Being a survivor of the holocaust does not grant Mr. Wiesel or anyone clairvoyance or prophetic wisdom.

      People often talk about the sanctity of life and society’s duty and obligation to protect it. But these are hollow words if punishment is not meted out to those who would take life in the most horrific of ways. Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society’s understanding.

      The Torah itself commands the death penalty for murderers. If Mr. Wiesel had read the Bible further he would have Known that Cain met with death after he had wandered the earth, he did not serve a prison term.

      If man is created in G-d’s image; how then do we punish the ultimate blasphemy, that of murder, if not with the ultimate punishment. If we want to protect life and enshrine it with holiness and meaning, then those who destroy it, forfeit their right to it.

      Logically, speaking if one can kill in self defense, when only the intention of murder was present, certainly one can take a life, if that person has already murdered someone.

      Ellie Wiesel has unfortunately become irrelevant…

      • You are dead wrong on that,

        The torah did impose a death penalty on someone who is committing murder (and btw there is death penalty for someone committing adultery as well… & you wouldn’t argue about that…) however since in order to carry out this punishment it has to be 100 percent sure that the actually committed the crime & today that we dont have a beis din & we are all humans with a possibility to make a mistake, so who can take the risk to kill somebody only based on our conclusion that the guy actually did it,??

        & the community doesnt benefit from it at all, since life imprisonment will take away this dangerous guy form the streets, anyway,

        • The Torah does NOT require us to be 100% sure. It only requires that two witnesses testify in accordance with certain conditions. The witnesses could be lying but if they pass the Beis Din’s tests (Hakiros and Bedikos) as well as their deliberations then the murderer is executed.

          People may have a problem with the American legal system, the jury system, the death row system, and certainly these systems are not perfect. However the point is NOT whether there is sufficient evidence to convict. Mr. Wiesel was taking a moral stand on what he believes to be less than moral when dealing with murderers. What is aggravating, is that he invokes the principles of the Torah which he clearly does not understand, chooses to ignore, or contemptibly distorts.

          The Torah in unambiguous as to the punishment for murder. It is stated in no uncertain terms in each of the five books of Moses.
          Genesis 9: 4-6
          Exodus 20:13, 21:12-16
          Leviticus 24 :17-21
          Numbers 35:16-33
          Deuteronomy 4: 41-43, 5:17, 19:11-13

          Read them carefully…

    4. Capital punishment is quite legal according to the Torah, the Jewish Bible. From there, Jews derive their moral guidelines, at least the last time I checked.

      What race/religion serves as Wiesel’s basis for morality? Fuzzy Wuzzy liberalism?

      Further, he would only “maybe” change his mind about it if it brought back the victim????

      As my father, alav hasholom, used to say, Wiesel is Over Butel.

      • Torah is liberal. The death penatly is liberalism. The idea that you could let a murderer endure on earth is far from Torah values. Mr. Weisel is a apt fellow. I hope that justice is served.

    5. well maybee weisel does have a point let him the killer suffer lets make him work so hard that he himself will kill himself i would want someone like this murederer to suffer as much as possible torture him forever

    6. Problem is in 25 years the would be up for parole and the do gooders will fight to get them out. Mansion is a case; his family and him still come up for parole. The death penalty is final which for these killers it is best. Another thing in jail they would never suffer like they made their victim suffer, being raped and burnt alive. No sympathy. The death panel is right

    7. In May, 1962, prior to Eichmann being hanged, a Reform group, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations sent a message to President Yitzchak Ben Zvi to spare Eichmann. Fortunately, Ben Zvi didn’t listen to them. In 1956, a Jewish baby named Peter Weinberger, was kidnapped while in his baby carriage, outside his home on Long Island. Despite his parents paying the ransom, the kidnapper abandoned the baby to die. However, the kidnapper was eventually arrested, tried, convicted, and executed, within two and a half years. In those days, there were no frivolous appeals, as is the case today. Unfortunately, Americans have a very ambivalent attitude, regarding enforcement of the death penalty. In the 1960’s, there was a serial killer in Texas, who was sentenced to death for murder. For some reason, he was freed after twenty three years. After he was freed, he again went on a killing spree, and was again caught and sentenced to death; this time, the penalty was carried out, in 1989; Please note that there is no rehabilitation for serial killers; they will only kill again, once released. Hayes, along with his associate, must be executed, for their heinous crimes.

    8. “Execution won’t bring back the victims.”

      I want to throw up every time I hear some anti-capital punishment use this excuse. When did anyone ever claim that execution will bring the victims back to life? That is not the reason we have executions.

    9. Let Wiesel be magnanimous and pick up the tab to house and feed these monsters for their lives’ duration. (Not on my tax dollars!!!) To live is to have hope; they destroyed the hope of three innocent individuals forever and stripped a man of his life’s joys and reason for living. They simply don’t deserve to live.

    10. I am against the death penalty. I have spent a lifetime as a prosecutor of homicide cases and remain opposed.
      Still there are cases where I am tempted to say this deserves the ultimate penalty,and this is obviously one of them. To me, however, I will remain opposed.To those who want to save money most studies have shown that the death penalty costs today are higher than life without parole.
      Having stated my opinion I am always amused at those who say let the defendant suffer. He/she should have to think about what they did. I have rarely heard about defendants wanting to be put to death. Most fight to live. I take it that prison is better than facing Hashem.
      Elie Wiesel has every right to make his attitude towards the death penalty known. As a concentration camp survivor he has more right than most of us. Still, each of us must come to our own conclusion.
      I only hope that readers who were opposed to the death penalty for a Jew who killed a police officer are not the ones who are in the forefront in demanding the death penalty for this defendant.

      • What is abhorrent is the attempt to inject fiscal calculations in the sentencing of murderers. It does not matter if it’s cheaper or more expensive to execute murderers, there is no fiduciary value to life.

        I, who am for the death penalty, oppose torture. Having someone spend their life in prison is also cruel and unusual punishment. Nevertheless if we really believe life is sacred and worth defending at all costs certainly we can punish those who extinguish life with the ultimate penalty.

        And a concentration camp survivor does NOT have more right than any of us to dictate morality. Certainly not, when he invokes the Torah and Jewish tradition in error, Counselor!

        And for all the naysayers, the Death penalty IS a deterent. If people knew that they would meet with a quick judgement and execution they would certainly think twice before killing anybody.

        Problems with the legal system and burden of proof, may make one uneasy at the prospect of allowing the death penalty to be meted out in cases were there is only partial/circumstantial evidence. However this discussion is about the morality of the death penalty and punishment of murderers. Not reasonable doubt!

      • I have always been pro death penalty for capital crimes. I have been excused from jury duty because of my opinion, even being as bold as to call a District Attorney spineless for not asking for that penality. That said, I would give up my position if the guilty could spend the rest of their lives in living hell…hard labor, solitary confinement as yes physical torture on a regular basis. In the USA this will never happen.. we are too civilized for our own good sometimes, and the do gooder liberals would never allow it.

        #17 your posts are always well written and make interesting points…however there should be nothing here to be amused about ( poor choice of a word, maybe?). I seriously doubt that most animals who commit such horrible crimes (as those in this story) will really give a damn and reflect on what they have done…unless their lives are made into a daily routine of living physical and mental hell.

    11. I also oppose the death penalty as a legal form of punishment. But in this case I will not shed a tear when these scumbags fry. Actually I think that the death penalty is too good for them.

    12. It somewhat of a paradox that Wiesel refers to the non-execution of Palestinian prisoners in Israel whilst remaining silent on the immediate and lethal responses to attacks by palestinian murderers in and outside Israel,where not only the putative murderers are eliminated but also their families-Sippenhaft ring a bell here?-neighbourhoods and any bystanders who happen to have the misfortune to be in the vicinity.This is more than mere cavilling;this is no ambiguity:no,this is simply distorting the facts and blending out one half of the picture.He is a phoney!

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