Dec. 13, 1995
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 13, 1995
THE PRESIDENT AND ELIE WIESEL
IN STATEMENT FROM THE OVAL OFFICE
Oval Office 10:40 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I have just had the pleasure of a meeting with Elie Wiesel to discuss our efforts to secure the peace in Bosnia. The citation on the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Elie Wiesel nine years ago, describes him as a messenger to mankind. He is a passionate witness to humanity’s capacity for the worst, and a powerful example of humanity’s capacity for the best.
Throughout his life, he has been an advocate for peace and human dignity and the duty we owe to one another, and I’d like to ask him to say just a few words about the decisions that are before our country and the work of peace in Bosnia.
MR. WIESEL: Mr. President, it is with a great sense of pride and pleasure that I came to support your decision. I believe it is right, I believe it is honorable. Two years ago or so, when we both spoke at the very important event, the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, I left my prepared remarks and appealed to you, to your humanity, which I know is profound, to do something, anything, to stop the killing, the bloodshed, the violence, the hatred, the massacre in former Yugoslavia.
I know how concerned you were. I know you tried. You tried very hard, trying to influence the European nations, the allies, the United Nations. And what you are doing now will be remembered in history, because it is intervention on the highest level and in its most noble form.
We in the United States represent a certain moral aspect of history. A great nation owes its greatness not only to its military power, but also to its moral consciousness, awareness. What would future generations say about us, all of us here in this land, if we do nothing?
After all, people were dying, people were killing each other, day after day. They stopped, thanks to your leadership. I know of no other world figure today who has done so much in the field of foreign affairs as you have, Mr. President. To send American men and women to preserve the peace is an act of courage and of decency, and I use the word advisedly—it’s an act of morality, and that is why I am here with you today, Mr. President.