“I can think of no more fitting couple for this honor than Elie and Marion Wiesel, who have dedicated their lives to promoting peace and understanding and the security of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder. “The Wiesels are a Jewish and world treasure who live and breathe Herzl’s ideals. Their contribution to the understanding of the Holocaust and to combating intolerance and injustice worldwide is incalculable.”
Clinton said “Elie and Marion Wiesel played a pivotal part in bringing the Shoah into public consciousness. The Wiesels have worked to overcome indifference toward the suffering of oppressed and marginalized populations around the world: Soviet Jews, Miskito Indians, refugees from Cambodia, prisoners from the former Yugoslavia, victims of the genocide in Darfur. Looking toward the future, Elie and Marion have filled us with hope and optimism for a freer, more just world.”
The Wiesels established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The foundation’s mission is to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs. Elie Wiesel’s ground-breaking memoir Night brought the experience of Holocaust survivors into world consciousness.
The World Jewish Congress Theodor Herzl Award recognizes individuals who carry forward Herzl’s ideals for a safer, more tolerant world through international support for Israel and enhanced understanding of Jewish history, culture and peoplehood. Theodor Herzl was the father of modern political Zionism. Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1860, he moved to Vienna and later to Paris. The anti-Semitic atmosphere he experienced there led him to believe that only the establishment of a Jewish state could bring about an end to anti-Semitism. In 1897, he convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
In 2012 Israeli President Shimon Perez received the World Jewish Congress Theodor Herzl Award.