Elie Wiesel received the President’s Medal of Distinction from Israeli President Shimon Peres in a ceremony in New York Monday night.
Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz and author of more than 40 books, was awarded Israel’s highest civilian medal for “his unique contribution to the memorial of the Holocaust and in light of his uncompromising drive for peace and tolerance.”
“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 said. “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 Clinton, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, Zubin Mehta the music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.