The May 13 opening plenary session at Israeli President Shimon Peres’ conference celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary featured an extraordinary mix of guests, including a long list of heads of state, scholars, religious leaders, Nobel laureates, philosophers and media moguls.
One of the keynotes was given by Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, an accomplished writer and human rights activist who won the 1986 Nobel Prize for peace. Weisel told the gathered world leaders that it is “a disgrace” that Iranian president Mahmoud Admadinejad is being received in capitals around the globe since he is threatening Israel with nuclear attack. “He should be persona non grata in any civilized society,” says Weisel. Members of the audience included the current presidents of Albania, Angola, Burkino Faso, Croatia, Latvia, Poland, Rwanda, Slovania, Uganda, Slovakia and Ukraine as well as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Vaclav Havel, the 10th and last president of Czechoslovakia, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Weisel acknowledged in his talk that Israel is not perfect, alluding to its many problems. But, he stressed,Israel does not want its dream to become anyone else’s nightmare. “If Israel could make peace with Germany who is to say it could not do the same with the Palestinians?” he asked.