WJC President Lauder honors Elie Wiesel at high-profile UNESCO-sponsored tribute to heroes fighting violent extremism

September 25, 2016 Agencies
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WJC President Lauder honours Elie Wiesel at high-profile UNESCO-sponsored tribute to heroes fighting violent extremism.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova present Marion Wiesel with Man of Peace Award in honor of her late husband, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Credit: Shahar Azran.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova present Marion Wiesel with Man of Peace Award in honor of her late husband, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Credit: Shahar Azran.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder delivered a tribute to the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel on Thursday evening, at a high-profile UNESCO-sponsored awards evening honoring heroes in the global campaign against violent extremism at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. More than a dozen activists, survivors, and witnesses of injustice were honored at the event for their contribution to human rights and justice, with acclaimed journalist Wolf Blitzer serving as master of ceremonies throughout the evening.

Recalling his visit to Auschwitz with Wiesel more than two decades ago, Lauder said: “To experience Auschwitz through Elie’s eyes changed the way I thought about the Holocaust forever. What I saw that day at Auschwitz was a man not filled with hate or revenge. I saw a man with, perhaps, the saddest eyes I had ever seen and the warmest smile. I also saw a man of great determination to honor the memory of all those who were lost, and at the same time, turn his sadness into a voice for those who could no longer speak.”

“Elie made a commitment to never be indifferent to suffering. Elie Wiesel was many things. He was a survivor, a teacher, a Nobel laureate, a scholar. He was our moral compass, and he was also a mensch. I would not be president of the World Jewish Congress today without Elie’s teaching and his life-long fight against indifference,” Lauder said.

Following his address, Lauder and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova presented Wiesel’s widow Marion with the Man of Peace Award, in honor of her husband.

Presiding Lauder’s address to Wiesel, Bokova said: “Today, more than ever, I am convinced we need new heroes for the values and freedoms that make us who we are, and we must be inspired by [Wiesel’s] Model. This is why we have gathered, in this place of knowledge and wonder, to stand united in the face of adversity, to raise together the banner for human rights and dignity, against barbarism, against violence, against extremism.”

Rabbi Arthur SchneierCardinal Pietro Parolin, and Dr. Ali Goma’a, were presented at the event with the Interfaith Leadership for Peace and Understanding Award; the Heroes Award was given to Emmanuel Jal, a South Sudan-born musician; Nadia Morad, a Yazidi refugee from norther Iraq and current UNODC Goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking; Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist; Abdihafid Yussuf Abdi, Kenyan-born co-founder of Teachers Against Violent Extremism; Turki Al-Dakhlil, leading Arab world journalist and media figure; Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of war-time Nazi criminals; Rochester Institute of Technology students and winners of the International Peer to Peer Challenging Extremism Initiative; and Hafsat Mohammed, founder of the Nigerian NGO Choice for Peace, Gender and Development. Chinese businessman Li Yongjun was given a special recognition award for his devotion to preserving cultural heritage. Among others, the distinguished presenters included Metropolitan Museum of Art President Daniel Weiss, musician Herbie Hancock, and humanitarian philanthropist Meera Gandhi.

Comments

5 Responses to “WJC President Lauder honors Elie Wiesel at high-profile UNESCO-sponsored tribute to heroes fighting violent extremism”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Dear Lynne,
    I am familiar with his memoirs. I am agreeing with you. Of course, he is not forgiving on behalf of all those murdered, and those who survived, albeit with life-long scars. I am saying the sadness in his eyes has nothing to do with forgiving. That’s my point.

    • Lynne Newington says:

      The emotional image given in relation to his words and his philosophical mind can easily be misinterpreted.
      We have an understanding now we’re on the same page of his memoirs.
      What has become a clear question in the Memoirs, contemplating the recent passing of Shimon Peres, is just how much he knew in 1978, as leader of the opposition, what was going on in Argentina during the dictatorship [supported by the Catholic Church], the torture of members of the Jewish community and the weapons Israel was supplying.
      When you consider the involvement of America and at a meeting with President Carter pictured with his son sitting on his knee was brazen compromise in my book.
      The observation is the same person making the tribute in this article is the same person claiming the miracle of 50 years ago, [http://religionnews.com/2015/10/28/ronald-lauder-nostra-aetate-miracle-catholic-jewish-relations/], bypassing the Argentine atrocities.

  2. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    I don’t think it’s meant that he closed his eyes and forgave, Lynne. To have the depths of sadness reflected in your eyes is the utmost in feeling and experience – it goes beyond ‘hate and revenge’, which if allowed to consume one is self-destroying. To bear such sadness is full recognition of what man can do to man, of a barbarity that still stands as something unimaginable and incomprehensible to those who did not suffer it. In Elie Wiesel’s case, one dares to think that perhaps his state of being as it is has enabled him life where sorrow lives side by side with the particular beauty he is still able to offer.

    I don’t think it’s about forgiving at all.

    • Lynne Newington says:

      If you were familiar with his memoirs an insight into the mind of the man you would have the same opinion.
      Would he be so presumptuous to forgive on behalf of those he promised to never forget and made it his mission to carry it through?

  3. Lynne Newington says:

    “Recalling his visit to Auschtwitz more than two decades ago”….. So he closed a his eyes and forgave?…….I don’t think so and who would dare to condemn him.

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