Elie Wiesel (1928-) is a Holocaust survivor who became a writer, professor, activist and Nobel Prize laureate. Born in Romania, he was deported by the Nazis to concentration camps, an experience he wrote about movingly in his acclaimed book Night. In his 1999 speech “The Perils of Indifference,” delivered at the White House, Wiesel urges us to engage in activism, to learn from the past and to never ignore the plight of others. He states that “indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor — never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten.” However, Wiesel also warns that indifference punishes those who fail to act. He observes that one of the most important lessons of the 20th century’s “wide-ranging experiments with good and evil” is that denying others their humanity diminishes one’s own. Wiesel and his wife created The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity to combat indifference, injustice and intolerance. His life’s work reflects his belief that “…to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”
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