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- As Delivered - 

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks in the House of Representatives supporting a resolution commemorating the life and work of Elie Wiesel (H.Res.810):

“Thank you Mr. Speaker, and I thank my friend from Florida for yielding to me. I rise in support of this resolution and let me start by thanking my colleague and friend from New York, Steve Israel, for his hard work on this measure.

“Mr. Speaker, on July 2nd, a light went out of this world. Elie Wiesel was a champion of human rights, peace, and Holocaust remembrance.  And though he’s gone, his life, and work, and message are seared on our collective conscience. 

“Born in Romania in 1928, he survived the Sighet ghetto, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald.  He was inmate number A-7713, and his number was tattooed on his arm.  His mother and sister died in death camps. 

“When I was a little boy growing up in the Bronx, we had many people that were Holocaust survivors. And they had tattoos all over their arms, on the other side of their wrists, and I remember that very, very vividly and it’s something that has seared into my memory through the years.

“When Wiesel was liberated by the United States in 1945, he moved to France and then immigrated to America.  In 1955, while living in France, he wrote Night, the story of his experience with his father in the Nazi death camps, and this book became the foundation of Holocaust literature.  I would advise everyone to read this book.  He was one of the first to put pen to paper to chronicle his own view of the darkest chapter in human history. 

“He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.  Upon giving him the prize, the Nobel Committee announced, ‘Wiesel is a messenger to mankind; his message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. Wiesel's commitment, which originated in the sufferings of the Jewish people, has been widened to embrace all repressed peoples and races.’

“Wiesel’s advocacy for victims of oppression around the world was his most recent legacy.  He championed the cause of saving Darfur. He defended the Tamil people in Sri Lanka. He was outspoken against the Iranian nuclear program. And he spoke out for people around the world who are being mistreated.

“Most recently, he dedicated himself to the stopping of the massacre of the Syrian people. He called for an international criminal trial against Assad, charging him with crimes against humanity. We on the Foreign Affairs Committee have seen documentations of those crimes against humanity, of what Assad has been doing to his own people. Wiesel said that the public response to Assad’s use of gas against the Syrian people was inadequate. I certainly agree.

“Elie Wiesel constantly reminded us that indifference to the suffering of others is what allows evil to take hold.  We must all take it upon ourselves to live Wiesel’s legacy. This was mentioned by my colleague before.  Anti-Semitism, once again, is rearing its ugly head around the world and we have to speak out and condemn it, and condemn all other kinds of discrimination as well. So: never again.  Not to Jews, not to Syrians, not to African Americans, not to anyone. 

“This resolution honors the legacy of Elie Wiesel, and reflects our commitment to carry his work and his message forward.

“It’s important that we come together on this. I remember when we had our annual Holocaust remembrance services right in the Capitol, discussing things with Elie Wiesel, took a few pictures together, it’s certainly something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

“So, Mr. Speaker, I’m glad to support this measure, I ask everyone to vote for it, and I yield back the balance of my time.”