Excerpts from Speech by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel With AM-Nobel Rdp Bjt
OSLO, Norway (AP) _ Excerpts from the speech given Wednesday by Elie Wiesel when he accepted the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize:
I am moved, deeply moved by your meaningful words, chairman Aarvik. And it is with a profound sense of humility that I accept the honor you have chosen to bestow upon me. I know: your choice transcends my person.
Do I have the right to represent the multitudes who have perished? Do I have the the right to accept this great honor on their behalf? I do not.
No one may speak for the dead, no one may interpret their mutilated dreams and visions. And yet, I sense their presence. I always do - and at this moment more than ever. The presence of my parents, that of my little sister. The presence of my teachers, my friends, my companions ...
This honor belongs to all the survivors and their children, and through us, to the Jewish people with whose destiny I have always identified. ...
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.
Of course, since I am a Jew profoundly rooted in my peoples’ memory and tradition, my first response is to the Jewish fears, Jewish needs, Jewish crises. For I belong to a traumatized generation, one that experienced the abandonment and solitude of our people. It would be unnatural for me not to make Jewish priorities my own: Israel, Soviet Jewry, Jews in Arab lands. ... But there are others as important to me. Apartheid is, in my view, as abhorrent as anti-Semitism. To me, Andrei Sakharov’s isolation is as much of a disgrace as Josef Begun’s imprisonment and Ida Nudel’s exile. As is the denial of Solidarity and its leader Lech Walesa’s right to dissent. And Nelson Mandela’s interminable imprisonment.
There is so much injustice and suffering crying out for our attention: victims of hunger, of racism and political persecution, writers and poets, prisoners in so many lands govered by the Left and by the Right.
Human rights are being violated on every continent. More people are oppressed than free. How can one not be sensitive to their plight? Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere. That applies also to the Palestinians to whose plight I am sensitive but whose methods I deplore when they lead to violence. Violence is not the answer, terrorism is the most dangerous of answers. They are frustrated, that is understandable; something must be done about it.