Elie Wiesel received Israel’s highest civilian honor yesterday, taking home the Medal of Distinction at a ceremony in New York.

Israeli President Shimon Peres was on hand to grant the award, draping the historic medal around the neck of the man considered by many to be the leader in Holocaust austerity.

Wiesel, 85, is an Auschwitz survivor and Nobel laureate, and has penned a library of more than 40 books, including his iconic “Night.”

“The Holocaust taught us that killing isn’t done just with guns and weapons, but also with apathy, and you Elie are saving the world from that apathy,” Peres said during the award ceremony.

“You are waving the flag of humanity, preventing bloodshed and challenging racism and anti-Semitism, as well as preventing war. You personally went through the most atrocious horrors of humanity, and as a Holocaust survivor you chose to dedicate your life to deliver the message – never again.”

“Israel is in the center of my life, and even though I don’t live in Israel, Israel lives within me,” Wiesel added. “I now see myself as an honorary Israeli. Life is composed of moments, not only years, and this moment is worth an entire life.”

Past Medal of Distinction recipients have included US President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.