Israeli Leaders Mourn Elie Wiesel, Symbol of Human Spirit's Triumph

Netanyahu says that for Wiesel, Jerusalem represented the Jewish people's perseverance; Rivlin: 'His life was dedicated to the fight against all hatred.'

Elie Wiesel, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the joint Congress Session in Washington DC, U.S., March 3, 2015.
Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Israel's leader bid farewell to renowned Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, who died on Saturday at 87.

Elie Wiesel 1928-2016: An interactive timeline

Elie Wiesel quotes on God, the Holocaust and humanity

"Elie, a wordsmith, gave expression by means of his extraordinary personality and his fascinating books to the triumph of human spirit over cruelty and evil," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "In the darkness of the Holocaust in which our brothers and sisters perished – six million – Elie Wiesel served as a ray of light and a beacon of humanity that believes in the goodness of man."

"Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, symbolized to him our ability to lift ourselves up from the very bottom to reach new heights," Netanyahu said.

In his own statement, President Reuven Rivlin called Wiesel "a hero of the Jewish People, and a giant of all humanity."

"His life was dedicated to the fight against all hatred, and for the sake of man as created in the image of God – he was a guide for us all," Rivlin said.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said on Facebook that Wiesel's books had made profound impact on him, and that these texts should be taught in schools in every school in Israel and around the world.

Former President Shimon Peres said "Wiesel left his mark on humanity through preserving and upholding the legacy of the Holocaust and delivering a message of peace and respect between people worldwide."

"I had the honor and privilege to personally thank him for his numerous years of work and for saving the world from apathy when I gave him the Presidential Medal on behalf of the State of Israel," Peres said in a statement. "May his memory be a blessing to us all." 

Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was perhaps best known for his major role in promoting Holocaust education, and for perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust in the post-World War II era with his memoir “Night,” based on his experience as a teenager in the Auschwitz concentration camp.