Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel this week joined the campaign to oust New Jersey Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka, who has come under fire for implying that Israel had advance knowledge of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
"I think a man who writes such things should not be a literary voice for New Jersey or any other group in the United States or any civilized society," Wiesel told The Jewish Week.
In a letter to ADL regional director Shai Goldstein, Wiesel wrote that Baraka is "an embarrassment to your State by spreading in his public statements poisonous slander of the Jewish people, its history and aspirations."
Goldstein presented the letter to the state Assembly in Trenton at a May 12 press conference, where he was joined by Jewish leaders and representatives of the Hindu International Council Against Defamation and the Black Minister’s Council of New Jersey. The group asked lawmakers to move on a bill to eliminate the post. The state Senate passed a similar bill in January.
Baraka has refused to step down from the $10,000, two-year appointment, which expires in August 2004. His poem "Somebody Blew Up America" states in part that 4,000 Israelis at the Twin Towers were told to stay home. Baraka has said he relied on Internet sources for that information.