The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

Appeal for Gilad Shalit:

For twelve days tens of thousands of Israeli citizens are marching to protest the continued captivity of Gilad Shalit. Following is a statement by Elie Wiesel in support of Gilad’s immediate release.We encourage everyone to get involved by contacting members of congress and government representatives about this urgent situation.

Gilad Shalit was kidnapped four long years ago and has been kept in secret isolation, causing pain and torment to his parents.

Four years of endless suffering and agony.

To the hostage, time itself is torture. It becomes an enemy. Filled with uncertainty, his time is different from ours. His waiting is not like ours. His minutes are longer than ours.

When will his Hamas captors realize that even terrorism must have limits? When will they allow the International Red Cross to visit him in his prison cell or underground hole? When will the civilized world raise its voice and demand Shalit’s release? When will NGOs make their outrage known? When will all good, decent and sensitive men and women mobilize their energy to put an end to this human scandal?

They must be made to realize that their silence only helps the jailer, never the prisoner.

What is at stake is our honor and our humanity.

-Elie Wiesel

For Jerusalem:

As published in The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on April 16, 2010 and in The New York Times on April 18, 2010:

It was inevitable: Jerusalem once again is at the center of political debates and international storms. New and old tensions surface at a disturbing pace. Seventeen times destroyed and seventeen times rebuilt, it is still in the middle of diplomatic confrontations that could lead to armed conflict. Neither Athens nor Rome has aroused that many passions.

For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture—and not a single time in the Koran. Its presence in Jewish history is overwhelming. There is no more moving prayer in Jewish history than the one expressing our yearning to return to Jerusalem. To many theologians, it IS Jewish history, to many poets, a source of inspiration. It belongs to the Jewish people and is much more than a city, it is what binds one Jew to another in a way that remains hard to explain. When a Jew visits Jerusalem for the first time, it is not the first time; it is a homecoming. The first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem. Its sadness and its joy are part of our collective memory.

Since King David took Jerusalem as his capital, Jews have dwelled inside its walls with only two interruptions; when Roman invaders forbade them access to the city and again, when under Jordanian occupation, Jews, regardless of nationality, were refused entry into the old Jewish quarter to meditate and pray at the Wall, the last vestige of Solomon’s temple. It is important to remember: had Jordan not joined Egypt and Syria in the war against Israel, the old city of Jerusalem would still be Arab. Clearly, while Jews were ready to die for Jerusalem they would not kill for Jerusalem.

Today, for the first time in history, Jews, Christians and Muslims all may freely worship at their shrines. And, contrary to certain media reports, Jews, Christians and Muslims ARE allowed to build their homes anywhere in the city. The anguish over Jerusalem is not about real estate but about memory.

What is the solution? Pressure will not produce a solution. Is there a solution? There must be, there will be. Why tackle the most complex and sensitive problem prematurely? Why not first take steps which will allow the Israeli and Palestinian communities to find ways to live together in an atmosphere of security. Why not leave the most difficult, the most sensitive issue, for such a time?

Jerusalem must remain the world’s Jewish spiritual capital, not a symbol of anguish and bitterness, but a symbol of trust and hope. As the Hasidic master Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav said, “Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart.”

Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.

-Elie Wiesel

UNESCO vote:

On Irina Bokova's election as Director General of UNESCO:

"UNESCO has escaped a scandal, a moral disaster.Mr. Hosni did not deserve the job, he does not deserve this honor. This is not someone, in my opinion, who should have even been a candidate for this position."

-Elie Wiesel, September 22nd, 2009

Senator Edward Kennedy's passing:

"Together, with our nation, and the whole world, The Elie Wiesel Foundation mourns the passing of Ted Kennedy. Extraordinary legislator and statesman, he was the most articulate and passionate humanist in the U.S. Senate. I vividly recall my conversations with him on vital issues and events and their moral implications. He was a true leader. We miss him and we shall never forget him."

-Elie Wiesel, August 26th, 2009

Tamil people statement:

Wherever minorities are being persecuted we must raise our voices to protest. According to reliable sources, the Tamil people are being disenfranchised and victimized by the Sri Lanka authorities. This injustice must stop. The Tamil people must be allowed to live in peace and flourish in their homeland.

-Elie Wiesel, June 30th 2009

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