NEW YORK - "The world must intervene immediately and stop Muammar Gadhafi," Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said yesterday, referring to the Libyan leader.

The Jewish-American writer, professor, Holocaust survivor and world-renowned human rights activist told Haaretz that "if the reports about the number of people killed among the demonstrators in Libya are correct, the world cannot stand by. It must intervene to stop Gadhafi."

"The question is, who will stop him?" Wiesel added.

He described the tumultuous events in several Arab states as "winds of insanity that pass through history every now and then."

"Occasionally winds of change pass through history. The Crusades were winds of insanity, the [Spanish] Inquisition was a burst of insanity winds and now it is happening in the Middle East. Of course, on a different level the Holocaust was also a wind of insanity, but I've always refrained from making comparisons," he said.

For the former Auschwitz prisoner, Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi epitomizes the culmination of "winds of insanity."

"But there have also been positive winds [of change] throughout history," he continued. "The fact that thousands of young people, including children, are demonstrating in the streets against tyrannical, bloodthirsty rulers is also insane - but in a good way."

Wiesel revealed that when he was in Davos, Switzerland a few years ago, Gadhafi's son visited him and presented him with a formal invitation from his father to visit Libya.

"We promise you anything you ask. If you ask us to build a synagogue, we'll agree," Wiesel recalled Gadhafi's son telling him. "Of course I refused the invitation," Wiesel said. "I always object to being used by a dictator."