Wiesel urges hope, tolerance, dialogue

Droves of students, buses full of local retirees and others from the Yale-New Haven community flocked to the Yale Law School on Tuesday to listen to distinguished author and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.

Wiesel spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about hate and intolerance in the world, his perspective as a Holocaust survivor, and his worries and hopes for the future. Wiesel’s talk was sponsored by the Chubb Fellowship, a program run by Timothy Dwight College.

Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel spoke at the Yale Law School on Tuesday, stressing the need for tolerance and peace.
Christopher Young
Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel spoke at the Yale Law School on Tuesday, stressing the need for tolerance and peace.

“Intolerance constitutes a contagious disease that transcends geographical borders and political frontiers,” he said. “To be intolerant toward anyone is to be his or her judge and the jailer of his or her rights.”

Wiesel said that suicide terrorism is a devastating example of intolerance as a cause of conflict, and that respect for other backgrounds and beliefs is necessary for peace. While Wiesel said relations between the Jewish and Christian communities have never been better, he articulated the need for more cooperation with Muslims.

During his speech, Wiesel expressed his indignation with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has publicly questioned Israel’s right to exist and claimed that accounts of the Holocaust are exaggerated.

“Iran should be expelled from the U.N. as long as he’s president,” Wiesel said, shaking his finger in frustration. “I’m waiting to hear an outcry, outrage in the world.”

The world has not been this dangerous since World War II, Wiesel said, and it is up to young people to create an environment of peace.

“This century is yours, and we have not prepared the century for you,” he said. “Do something with what you are learning here … Create an ambience of tolerance.”

The conclusion of his lecture was met with a standing ovation. Audience members said that it was an honor to listen to such an influential figure, and that his message was important and inspiring.

“It was a stirring, beautiful call to memory and to hope and to responsibility,” said Rabbi James Ponet, the Jewish Chaplain at Yale.

Jamie Yood ’07 was one of a small group of students who had the opportunity to have lunch with Wiesel at the Union League Cafe on Tuesday.

“He can say, ‘I was there and this was my experience,’” Yood said. “We need to take something from that and learn something from that.”

Wiesel served as Yale’s first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought from 1982 to 1983, and his son graduated from the University in 1994. Wiesel has authored over 40 books, the most renowned being “Night,” a memoir of his life during the Holocaust, and he has been awarded national and international honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize.

Timothy Dwight College Master Robert Thompson said he was proud to bring such a distinguished guest to Yale as part of the Chubb Fellowship program, which attracts three or four prominent speakers each year.

“He is a moral inspiration to us all,” Thompson said. “This is more than a Chubb Lecture. This is a spiritual event.”

Wiesel currently teaches at Boston University, where he has served as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities for 30 years.


  • annie carney@wanadoo.fr

    Where does one begin with the contradictions and outright dangerous propaganda of the oh! so 'tolerant liberal and immoral left ? No I am not from the religious right ,am very ,very well informed and am European. We have been standing by for too too long accepting the degradation of any decency whatsoever in the name of the 'rights' of small corrupt minorities who insist on their 'right' to corrupt the gullible and innocent. Mr Weisel is only a 'Genius' of false thinking and sophistry,and loved by the ignorant and or corrupt.These are the people who are INTOLERANT of every 'truth' which gets in in the way of their repeated lies which then are forced on us as truth.
    I have no respect for this man or those who follow him or his kind ,because they hate the truth and persecute those who dare to question them.The world is a truly dangerous place because of his like
    Putting him on a pedestal only inflates his 'orgieul'.Where is the right of 'free 'speech ,whether you agree or not .What happened to John Stuart Mills ?
    The immoral mind bending left has replaced a higher law with 'thou must think as we do or we will deprive you of your 'rights .Only these thugs have rights ,no one else.
    I belonged to the left for long enough to learn they are lost and have taken the lower path.