During his crowd-pleasing address to Congress on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged novelist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who traveled to Washington, D.C. this week in support of the controversial Israeli leader. Netanyahu hinged quite a bit of his speech on emotional appeals, so it's no surprised he noted the celebrated Jewish novelist who has become one of the most prominent speakers on the Holocaust in America.
Netanyahu spoke directly to Wiesel, who was sitting in the chamber along with most members of Congress and their guests. "With us today is Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel," the Israeli prime minister said, before addressing the novelist:
Elie your life and work inspire us to give meaning to the words 'never again.' I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Netanyahu continued to make references to the Holocaust, warning that the current proposed deal with Iran about the nation's nuclear weapons program could lead to a second Holocaust. "But I can guarantee you this, the days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over," Netanyahu continued.
Wiesel, who was only a teenager when he and his family was interned in several concentration camps during the Holocaust, has been a vocal supporter of Netanyahu and a defender of the state of Israel. On Monday, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate attended a forum in a Senate hearing room along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), urging the Obama administration to be wary of Iran. According to Bloomberg, the title of the panel discussion was "The Meaning of Never Again: Guarding Against a Nuclear Iran,"drawing parallels to Netanyahu's speech.
Wiesel seemed to believe the Iran was capable of triggering another Holocaust. "We have to take them [Iran] seriously," Wiesel told the panel. "I need proof that Iran has changed its policy. If the evil begins its work, don't give it another chance."
The novelist also defended Cruz, who has been one of the most supportive backers of Netanyahu and Israel in the Senate. "For those who say, well that may be Israel’s concerns but how does that impact America?" Cruz added to the panel. "It is not by accident that Iran refers to Israel as the Little Satan and America as the Great Satan. Which I would note Great Satan is not a compliment."
In February, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who hosted the Senate panel on Monday, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times and The Washington Post featuring Wiesel. The ad proved the novelist's support for Netanyahu and his controversial address at Congress. "Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?" Wiesel was quoted as saying in the ad.
Boteach told Reuters at the time that Wiesel is a "living prince" in the Jewish world. "He is the face of the murdered 6 million," Boteach said, adding that Wiesel's opinion on Iran should be considered.
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