Holocaust Survivor Wiesel Urges Obama to Hear Netanyahu
Elie Wiesel, an American Nobel Peace Prize winner and survivor of the Holocaust, is featured in a new full-page ad in The New York Times and the Washington Post, supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on Iran to Congress scheduled for March 3.
The ad describes the 86-year-old Wiesel's intention to attend the speech "on the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran." He decries the decision of at least 22 U.S. lawmakers to boycott the speech.
He asks the president, "Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?"
Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and is a survivor of the death camps at Buchenwald and Auschwitz. In the ad, he relates the actions of present-day Iran to the biblical story of Haman in the book of Esther, who vowed to "annihilate, murder, and destroy the Jews, young and old, children and women."
"The Ayatollah Khameini has been as clear as his predecessor in declaring his goal: 'the annihilation and destruction' of Israel. He is bent on acquiring the weapons needed to make good on the deadly promise," he continued.
President Barack Obama has said he will not attend the Netanyahu speech, and the White House has expressed irritation that House Speaker John Boehner issued the invitation during the run-up to Israel's national elections on March 17.
Vice-President Joe Biden is slated to be out of the country and will also not be on hand for the address.
To those in the government who refuse to attend, Wiesel asks, "As one who has seen the enemies of the Jewish people make good on threats to exterminate us, how can I remain silent?"
He also admonished senators and representatives "to put aside the politics that have obscured the critical decisions to be made."
Netanyahu, who has taken heat from both domestic and overseas political adversaries, tweeted this week he is determined to follow through on his invitation to address Congress at this time.
The advertisement supporting him was sponsored by New Jersey Rabbi Shumley Boteach. The London Times refused to run the ad.
Boteach said of Wiesel that he is "the face" of 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
"I think that his view on the prime minister's speech sounding the alarm as to the Iranian nuclear program carries a unique authority that transcends some of the political circus that has affected the speech," Boteach said.