Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel Says Turned Down Netanyahu’s Offer to Run for Israeli Presidency – ‘Leave Me Alone, I Write Books’


wieselElie Wiesel, humanitarian, Nobel Prize laureate and Chairman of The Algemeiner‘s Advisory Board, said he turned down an offer from Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to succeed Shimon Peres as President of the State of Israel, Israeli daily Yediot Achronot reported on Sunday.

In an interview, Wiesel said he was flattered, but didn’t think the job was for him: “‘Why should I be president? Leave me alone. I write books. I wasn’t meant to do that.'”

Wiesel said Netanyahu had telephoned him in New York three times: “You will be the president of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “I have finalized it with everyone. Just say yes.”

“I’ll consider it,” Wiesel replied politely.

Yedioth Ahronoth, a newspaper that Wiesel worked for as correspondent in Paris and New York, wrote: “Wiesel is an amazing person. At the age of 86 he writes, lectures, fosters a foundation with his wife Marion which funds, among other things, two institutions for children in the southern Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Kiryat Malachi. In the time he has left he does quite a lot, verbally and in writing, for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

“He has never resided in Israel, apart from his short visits here, usually during the holidays. He never asked to become a citizen. He always thought that his decision to live far away carries a price: he avoids lecturing the Israelis on how to live and who to elect, and he strictly avoids criticizing Israel even when he doesn’t approve of its actions.”

Yedioth Ahronoth wrote that on Tuesday night Netanyahu had declared a “Wiesel alert.”

“Until close to midnight, the deadline for closing the list of presidential candidates, [Netanyahu] begged the ministers of the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Bayit Yehudi not to endorse Reuven Rivlin, because Wiesel had said yes,” the newspaper said. “Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Netanyahu claimed, had agreed to postpone the deadline by one day. Within 24 hours he would get Wiesel an Israeli citizenship and Wiesel would be everyone’s candidate.”

But Wiesel didn’t bite.

“He telephoned me three times,” Wiesel said. “When he failed to receive a favorable answer, he pressured me through mutual friends. The pressure was heavy, you have no idea how heavy, but I know how to face pressure. One of those who pressed me said, ‘Your father in Heaven will see you being elected as the president of the State of Israel. Don’t you want to make him proud?'”

Wiesel said that’s when he responded, “‘Leave me alone. I write books. I wasn’t meant to do that.'”

“Nevertheless, it’s a great compliment,” Wiesel said. “I was glad to have so many friends who want me.”

The Algemeiner Journal

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  1. This is ridiculous. Elie Wiesel is a major contributor to learning about the holocaust. The last thing we need to do with our survivor’s who keep our voices active is put them in a figure head position to more over change our needs from a nation of learned individuals to a voice of the needy who does not know how to promote new voices. Prof. Wiesel is very ready to keep the necessity of holocaust education ready. To ask him to serve as an emissary is to diminish his role, his honorable free time and his voice of liberty.

    We can do better any day. Are we not a nation of educated minds? Get someone in the office who has potential to keep the voice of Israel active for all the ages to come. This should be simple. Find a jew who keeps Torah values and a jew who has an education that keeps the world in a better light.