Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel told a large group on Capitol Hill on Monday that the threat of a nuclear Iran must be taken seriously and said it was important that Americans hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Wiesel was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) in a jam-packed Senate auditorium for a discussion on the dangers of Iran and the rising tide of anti-Semitism across the globe.
“To be Jewish in this world is to always be concerned,” explained Wiesel when asked about Iran. “When enemies make threats, take them seriously.”
“When evil begins its work, don’t give it another chance,” said Wiesel.
Echoing Wiesel’s grave words on Iran was Cruz, who was introduced by event moderator Rabbi Shmuley Boteach as a “lion in the defense of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Cruz argued that the political squabbles such as the one surrounding Netanyahu’s Tuesday speech are “nonsense” and that it is time to start taking Iran seriously.
“There is lots of chatter about someone at the White House upset that some protocol wasn’t followed—none of it matters, it is all nonsense,” Cruz said. “What matters is what we do right now to address the single greatest national security threat facing both the nation of Israel and the United States.”
“Iran is building centrifuges, Iran is enriching uranium, Iran is continuing to develop its ICBM program, and for three years we have gone round and round in pointless negotiations while we endanger both our security and Israel’s security,” said Cruz.
Cruz made clear his belief that the Obama administration is comfortable with Iran having a nuclear weapon because it doesn’t “understand who it is they are negotiating with.”
“Those who are leading this negotiation fundamentally don’t understand who it is they are negotiating with,” Cruz said. “I think their view is it’s perfectly acceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons.”
Cruz also took a shot at the isolationist view that the Iranian threat should be of no concern to the United States, saying, “it is not by accident that Iran refers to Israel as the Little Satan and America as the Great Satan.”
For this reason, Cruz said he told Netanyahu that his address to Congress was “important to Israel, but every bit as important to the United States.”
Cruz called Wiesel both an “American hero” and “a hero of the world” and said it was both “humbling and breathtaking” to join him in “shining a light on the grave threats facing both Israel and the United States.”
The event, promoted as a “bipartisan dialogue” on Iran, was supposed to include Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman (Calif.), but he withdrew from the event at the last minute due to an advertisement run by Boteach against Susan Rice that Sherman found to be “vulgar.”
Cruz said during the event that more than a dozen Democrats were invited to the Wiesel event, but that none accepted.
Wiesel will attend Netanyahu’s speech Tuesday as a special guest of Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). He stressed at the Monday event how important it is that Netanyahu be heard by Congress.
“We are a people that has always spoke up,” said Wiesel, who said he feels it is his duty to speak up if there is any chance that he could have a positive impact in the world.
“I cannot allow myself to live in a world where somebody will need me and I will not answer.”