Elie Wiesel called for the imprisonment of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying the No. 1 Holocaust denier wants Iran to become nuclear in order to destroy Israel.
In an exclusive interview, Wiesel told me that the Iranian president should be arrested immediately and taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
"This man," Wiesel said, "wants Iran to become nuclear so that he could destroy the state of Israel. This man should be arrested for incitement, crimes against humanity. He should not be president of the state. He should be arrested and brought to be charged by the international court."
Wiesel, a resident of New York, was invited by President Obama last week to accompany him on a visit to Buchenwald, the extermination camp where Wiesel and his father were imprisoned by the Nazis. The visit brought back the worst memories of his life. He recalled the night his father, after months of intense suffering, died in a barracks bed just above his.
Bodies were burned there and, remembering that, Wiesel said at the Buchenwald ceremony: "His grave is somewhere in the sky. This has become, in those years, the largest cemetery of the Jewish people."
He remembered how his father "called my name and I was too afraid to move. All of us were. And then he died. I was there but I was not there."
Obama said: "To this day there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened -- a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history."
Wiesel praised Obama: "Mr. President, we have such high hopes for you because you, with your moral vision of history, will be able and compelled to change this world into a better place, where people will stop waging war -- every war is absurd and meaningless -- where people will stop hating one another."
Is he discouraged about the world ignoring most appeals for peace and brotherhood and sisterhood? Wiesel said he refused to be discouraged. "The teacher in me, the writer in me says, 'No, I cannot do that.'" He recalled that Camus had written that, if there is no hope, we have to invent it.
Wiesel and the President, a couple of generations apart, are -- we are glad to see -- apostles of hope and a belief that human beings can change for the better.