But it was “Night” ’s growing status, not any new work, that brought Wiesel to prominence in America (he never achieved a comparable fame in Israel). Inspired by Wiesel and other memoirists, such as Primo Levi, increasingly American Jews saw the Holocaust as a binding tie. About three-quarters of American Jews, a Pew study shows, now think “remembering the Holocaust” is essential to their identity, twice as many as focus on religious duties. Non-Jews saw the book as a reason to trust Wiesel’s voice. And he raised it, as the New York Times obituary recalls, with mounting regularity. He condemned the burnings of black churches in the United States, and spoke out against apartheid in South Africa and on behalf of the the tortured political prisoners of Latin America. He denounced the massacres in Bosnia in the mid-nineteen-nineties, and reportedly helped to persuade Bill Clinton to intervene. He condemned the slaughters in Cambodia, Rwanda, and the Darfur region of Sudan. “I swore never to be silent whenever, wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation,” he said, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, in the fall of 1986. “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” I recall Wiesel speaking on national television in the U.S., after a program on the dangers of nuclear weapons, declaring that, in the face of extinction, all the world has become “Jewish.”

Remarkably, however, there is not a word in the Times obituary about the occupation of the Palestinian territories. That is not an oversight. To the dismay of Israeli peace activists, and their supporters abroad, who’ve seen Wiesel’s unique international stature grow over two generations—and sought his support—he rarely if ever publicly raised his voice against any Israeli actions: not the bombings of Beirut in 1982; not the subsequent massacre, by Lebanese Phalangists, at Sabra and Shatila, within the perimeter held by the Israeli Army; not the disgraceful behavior of settlers in Hebron; not the encirclement by Israeli ministries of Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood; not the obstacles placed before international efforts to restore potable water and electricity to the residents of Gaza. Many of us who admired him in our youth became increasingly impatient with his inability to see the occupation for what it was. Primo Levi, also a survivor of Auschwitz, condemned Menachem Begin’s war in Lebanon as “success achieved with an unprincipled use of arms.” For Levi, evil was too explicably human to be absolute: “I feel indignant toward those who hastily compare the Israeli generals to Nazi generals, and yet I have to admit that Begin draws such judgments on himself . . . I fear that this undertaking [in Lebanon], with its frightening cost in lives, will inflict on Judaism a degradation difficult to cure . . . I sense in myself, not without surprise, a profound emotional bond to Israel, but not to this Israel.”

In his Nobel speech, Wiesel spoke majestically of the need to ameliorate suffering, which “applies also to Palestinians, to whose plight I am sensitive, but whose methods I deplore when they lead to violence. . . . They are frustrated; that is understandable.” Terror, however, disqualified their national claims (the Peace Prize, after all, was for the author of “Night,” not “Dawn”). Then he added, as if Israel were itself not then led by the former Jewish terrorist and annexationist, Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir, “Israel will coöperate; I am sure of that. I trust Israel for I have faith in the Jewish people. Let Israel be given a chance, let hatred and danger be removed from their horizons, and there will be peace in and around the Holy Land.” Wiesel’s one show of magnanimity to the peace camp came in June of 2009, after President Obama delivered his Cairo Address. Wiesel joined Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel on a symbolic visit to Buchenwald, as if to endorse the Administration’s claim that reaching a new dialogue with the Muslim world would not be purchased at the cost of Israel’s legitimacy. But, as the Netanyahu government settled in, Wiesel sided with Netanyahu’s most vociferous backers in distancing himself from Obama, opposing virtually all diplomatic initiatives toward Iran and the Palestinians.

In 2010, as the Obama Administration tried to revive negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians over, among other things, Jerusalem, Wiesel took out a full-page ad in the Times. “For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics,” he wrote. “It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture—and not a single time in the Koran . . . the first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem.” In what seemed a desperate play for his old moral authority, he wrote that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are able to build their homes anywhere in Jerusalem and only under Israeli sovereignty. “The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory.” Curiously, Wiesel’s appeal to “memory” had now abandoned history altogether. Ben Gurion once quipped, “There is no God, and He gave us the land of Israel.” Wiesel seemed now to be saying, God may not have survived Auschwitz, but he had already promised us Jerusalem.

“Mr. Wiesel prefer[s] mythical references . . . and eschatology to the real people who want to live together in peace,” Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, a Hebrew University scholar of Holocaust literature, also my wife, wrote in protest. (Sidra had previously worked with Wiesel on the creation of the American Holocaust Museum.)

For Wiesel, loving Jerusalem superseded loving in Jerusalem. “After representing so eloquently the victims of history’s injustices in Nazi and then Soviet Europe, Mr. Wiesel would surely, we assumed, turn to the injustices perpetrated by his own people, and cry out against the tragic occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people,” Sidra wrote. Imagine if, the Jew that he was, he had.