Israel awards its top honor to Elie Wiesel


(JTA) — Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was presented with Israel’s highest civilian honor from Israeli President Shimon Peres in a New York ceremony.

Wiesel was awarded the President’s Medal of Distinction on Monday night for “his unique contribution to the memorial of the Holocaust and in light of his uncompromising drive for peace and tolerance.”

The Nobel Peace Prize winner is a survivor of Auschwitz and the author of more than 40 books.

“The Holocaust taught us that killing isn’t done just with guns and weapons, but also with apathy, and you Elie are saving the world from that apathy,” Peres told Wiesel during the award presentation. “You are waving the flag of humanity, preventing bloodshed and challenging racism and anti-Semitism, as well as preventing war. You personally went through the most atrocious horrors of humanity, and as a Holocaust survivor you chose to dedicate your life to deliver the message – never again.”

Wiesel responded, “Israel is in the center of my life, and even though I don’t live in Israel, Israel lives within me. I now see myself as an honorary Israeli. Life is composed of moments, not only years, and this moment is worth an entire life.”

Previous winners of the award include President Obama; former President Bill Clinton; former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; the music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta; The Rashi Foundation; and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

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