Euroviews. The Red Cross is failing Jews again

In 2015, the World Jewish Congress organised an event at the Geneva’s Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, titled “Remembering the Shoah: The ICRC and the International Community’s Efforts in Responding to Genocide and Protecting Civilians”.

In his keynote address at the event, The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer said: “The ICRC failed to protect civilians and, most notably, the Jews persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime. It failed as a humanitarian organisation because it lost its moral compass.”

In the years since this brave admission and 78 years since the end of the Holocaust, the ICRC has once again lost its moral compass and it is Jews again who bear the brunt.

Bones stuck in the throat

The day of the pogrom of 7 October, when Hamas death squads stormed across the Israeli border like Einsatzgruppen, mercilessly and joyously murdering, mutilating and raping over 1,200 Israelis, kidnapping 240 and injuring physically and psychologically thousands more, the ICRC could only find room in its sole official press release to call “on all parties to respect their legal obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL). Civilians and health-care workers must be respected and protected at all times.”

This was the response of the preeminent global humanitarian aid organisation could say about the largest single massacre of Jews since the end of World War II, and the most inhuman terrorist attack in modern history, even before the Jewish State even mustered a response to the atrocities.

When it comes to Jews or the Jewish State, all norms and rules are thrown out of the window.

A woman walks by empty chairs tied together in an art installation depicting hostages held by Hamas in the Hostages Square at the Museum of Art in Tel Aviv, November 2023

In the body of the press release, it did not mention the words “Israel” or “Israelis”, as if they were bones stuck in the throat of the mealy-mouthed press officers who wrote such a despicable and meaningless screed.

Here was an opportunity for the ICRC to demonstrate that it had not lost its “moral compass” and had learned lessons from the past. Unfortunately, the organisation abjectly failed in its mission, and that press release was arguably the point from the Red Cross over the ensuing weeks.

Those press officers at the ICRC who could find no comfort or sympathy for Jewish victims found plenty for the Palestinians.

However, when it comes to Jews or the Jewish State, all norms and rules are thrown out of the window.

Israel gets named, but Hamas doesn’t?

Most remarkably, while in every single conflict in the world, the ICRC ensures and assists civilians to leave conflict areas, as we are witness to in Ukraine, Sudan and other areas around the world, the Red Cross condemned Israel for doing the same.

On 13 October, while the Israel Defence Forces took unprecedented steps in the annals of history to ensure that civilians received fair warning to leave an arena of conflict, the ICRC accused Israel of not complying with international humanitarian law.

There was no mention of the war criminals of Hamas which repeatedly conducts multiple war crimes, not least using civilian institutions, like hospitals, schools and mosques, as military control centres and rocket launch sites.

If all of this were not enough, the ICRC has utterly failed in its central mission, which should be to secure the release of the Israeli hostages. It has not even managed to visit them or provide them with the necessary medication.

Eyal Barad pauses in the safe room where he sheltered with his family as Hamas rampaged through his community in Kibbutz Nir Oz, 9 November 2023

No, the Jewish State, which is risking its own soldiers’ lives and losing the crucial element of surprise to broadcast where it will be attacking in advance, is the one repeatedly in the ICRC firing lines.

If all of this were not enough, the ICRC has utterly failed in its central mission, which should be to secure the release of the Israeli hostages. It has not even managed to visit them or provide them with the necessary medication.

According to her children, the Red Cross refused to accept the medications for Elma Avraham, the 84-year-old who was abducted from her home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on 7 October and freed after almost two months of hell.

They were derelict in their central duty.

A case of double standards

Of course, we have to mention the role of the ICRC in accepting the released hostages and driving them to the border with Egypt, but surely the Red Cross is supposed to be more than a facilitator for the physical handover of hostages.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the ICRC has Hamas’ phone number when it needs it, and can facilitate its own needs with the genocidal terrorist organisation, as witnessed by the recent visit by current President Mirjana Spoljaric Egger.

A Red Cross vehicle carrying Israeli hostages drives by at the Gaza Strip crossing into Egypt in Rafah, November 2023

It also has a voice when it wants.

Early on in the conflict, instead of working around the clock to release the hostages, the ICRC seemed to be more interested in worrying about the family visitation rights and luxuries of mass murdering terrorists in Israeli jails.

So, no, all of the ICRC’s excuses have been demonstrably false and misleading.

It just appears to have one rule for the Jews and one rule for the rest of the world.

78 years after the Holocaust, the ICRC is once again failing the Jews. It still has a chance to rectify these glaring failings, but not for long, as the Israeli hostages are described as being in worsening health and treatment.

We, whose people were decimated in the Holocaust, and who watched as our people were butchered and dragged off to hell, look to the ICRC to do the right thing.

In our eyes, this might be your last chance.

Robert Singer is the chairman of the Center for Jewish Impact, and the former CEO of the World Jewish Congress.

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