The passing of Professor Elie Wiesel was – and on his shloshim today remains – a personal and profound loss. It is akin to the passing of one of the legendary “Lamed Vavniks,” the 36 righteous people living in the world. Their just lives, at any given moment, redeem humanity. This is how I always felt about the person who was my teacher, mentor, role model, inspiration and friend of 50 years – in a word, the most remarkable and inspirational human being I have ever encountered and had the honour to work with in common cause.
As Elie would remind me again and again, we must never be bystanders to injustice, never be indifferent to human suffering, never be silent in the face of evil, never abandon the victim to stand alone. It is this that inspired the founding of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights – where Elie Wiesel was our Honourary Chair – and where the Centre’s agenda is anchored in, and inspired by, Elie’s teaching and action. Indeed, the best remembrance, and the best tribute we can pay to Elie Wiesel, is to commit to action, such as that which found expression in the “Never Again Declaration” that we adopted at the International Legal Symposium at Jagiellonian University in May 2016 – co-chaired by the Raoul Wallenberg Human Rights Centre and the March of the Living – and where Elie acted as our Honourary Chair, one of his last public acts.
The closing excerpt of this “Never Again Declaration” inspired by Elie Wiesel is as follows:
That “never again will we be indifferent to incitement and hate. Never again will we be silent in the face of evil. Never again will we indulge racism and anti-Semitism. Never again will we ignore the plight of the vulnerable. Never again will we be indifferent to mass atrocity and impunity. But we will speak up and act against indifference, against racism, against hate, against anti-Semitism, against mass atrocity, and against the crime of crimes whose name we should even shudder to mention: genocide.
"Elie Wiesel: Conscience of humanity"
Irwin Cotler, TimesofIsrael