Judith Brown
Young enough not to quit and old enough to know better.

The deafening global silence of hostage disinterest

I am old enough to remember all the hijackings, hostage taking, and anything in between from the late 50’s onwards. It was big news. Every time hostages were taken, or planes hijacked, the world went aghast, demanding their release, demanding justice: that is until now. On October 7, 2023, approximately 240 hostages were taken under vile conditions of beatings, rape, and savagery unimaginable to a civilized society, yet such a society so hung-up on social justice has literally gone silent.

Interest in the hostages on the world stage has dwindled to the last page of major newspapers, and way below one of Taylor Swift’s concerts. Between the release of some of the hostages and those remaining in unspoken and unknown conditions, is a silence that is loudly deafening. A silence that under other circumstances would have a “breaking news” story on the hour.

The world spent a week speculating whether a submarine diving down to the Titanic had killed the six people on board, and when recovered, another week was given to the speculating on the how, why, and what caused the tragedy. Over a hundred, mostly Israelis remain captive by the most brutal and vile terrorist organization in the world. Barely a word is uttered by either the mainstream media or self-righteous activist organizations. But the conversation becomes globally heated when it comes to Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist thugs and in protection of its citizens. A double standard that is obvious but conveniently ignored.

When 52 American hostages were taken by Iran in 1979, the world held its breath and the drama played on our screens and newspapers for the next 444 days. There was no doubt who the “bad guy” was in that scenario. No UN debates or a smidgen of “justification” to the unmitigated takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran and the captivity of US citizens. The line was clearly drawn. The militants were the bad guys and the hostages the victims. No grey or uncertain area. The difference was defined by the actions taken. Nobody condemned the US in its military attempts to get the hostages out. It was a logical assumption that when a nation’s assets and civilians are under attack, it has the obligation to respond in kind.

In April 2014, 276 Nigerian high school girls from Chibok, Nigeria, were abducted from their dormitory while studying for their final exams. A group of militants from a relatively unknown terrorist group Boko Haram raided the village on motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles and took the girls away. It took a month before the world rose in uproar and only after African activists accused the west of ignoring the abductions and hostage taking because the girls were poor Africans. As soon as the world was accused of racism, an atomic reaction of condemnation against the abductions spread like wildfire. From Amnesty International to Hollywood, the indignation took on a life of its own. Soon Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, and Hillary Clinton were riding on the wave of racial inequality for the “girls”. “What has happened in Nigeria is outside the circle of civilized human behavior” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. #BringBackOurGirls became the mantra of the feminists who took to the streets and mainstream media like horses to water. Even Michelle Obama made a public plea holding the hashtag sign. As of today, “the circle of civilized human behavior” has said very little about the remaining hostages in Gaza.

On October 7, 2023, amid a massacre of pogrom and holocaust proportions, the terrorist group Hamas killed approximately 1,200 Israelis including foreigners and took 240 others as hostages. The hostages ranged from nine months to 85 years old. Some were foreign aid workers. The majority were regular folk living in Kibbutzim, farming, and living a simple life. Some were peace activists helping Gazan children and their families travel to Israeli hospitals for treatment. Others were children left as instant orphans in attacks on their homes and murders of their parents. Like the abduction of the Chibok girls, the raid on Israel and the hostage taking was done on motorcycles and four-wheelers. However, after the initial world indignation, the opposite to Chibok took place.

We are into the second month of the massacres and abductions and the silence echoes in the heart of every hostage family member and Israeli. There are no hashtags, no Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or feminists donning clownish pink hats in protest to the rape and killing of Israeli women. The world was shamed by its callous disregard for the Chibok girls’ plight by defining their race. The world doesn’t seem to care or is moved by the fact that the majority of the hostages are Jews. Where is Amnesty International, and most important, where is the International Red Cross (ICRC)? The ICRC has been described as a mere “taxi service” in bringing hostages back. It has basically done very little.

To put a bit of a perspective on the ICRC whose reputation has sunk as low as that of the UN, it’s president is Mirjana Spoljanic Egger. Educated at the Universities of Basel and Geneva, Ms. Egger studied philosophy, economics, and international law. As far as I know when someone asks for assistance from the Red Cross, they expect someone with a bit more knowledge on disasters and in this case, hostage taking, rather than a philosopher and an economist. But I digress. Ms. Egger’s educational background morphed into the diplomatic world at the Swiss Embassy in Cairo, and as a desk officer for the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development & Nuclear Safety in Central & Eastern Europe. Between 2010-2012 Ms. Egger was senior advisor to the office of UNRWA. The latter is as close as Ms. Egger has ever come to reality. So, it is no surprise that Ms. Egger is clueless in demanding hostage release, giving assistance to the hostages, or even identifying the medical and physiological trauma on hostages after their ordeal. She keeps to the all too familiar talking points that the ICRC will determine the “humanitarian needs and access to people affected by the ongoing conflict”. Whatever that means. As of today, the ICRC including Ms. Egger has yet to visit the hostages nor has it bothered to visit the victims of the massacres “affected by the ongoing conflict”. A diplomatic obscenity disguised as caring.

On December 15, Israeli Health Minister Uriel Bosso and members of his ministry met with Ms. Egger and her team, emphasizing the continual and dangerous deterioration of the hostages. Uriel Bosso brought to her attention the disturbing statements from released hostages describing unsustainable human conditions. He urged that the ICRC immediately visit the hostages and deliver medical supplies to those who need them urgently, and most importantly, demand their release. Ms. Egger did manage to meet with some of the very frustrated and angry hostage families who are getting tired of the same ICRC narrative that the ICRC is still demanding access to the hostages. Ms. Egger’s “I reiterate, the hostages must be released immediately” has not given much confidence to anyone involved in getting the hostages home.

As a reminder to Ms. Egger: it is against international law to take hostages (in case she missed this in one of her international law classes). Such unmitigated incompetence and lack of empathy toward the hostage situation, the families, and a nation torn by a massacre is not only unprecedented in an alleged international organization founded on humanitarian assistance, but disgraceful.

Those released have spoken of atrocities that include starvation, beatings, intimidation of children, assault on women, and systematic unsanitary conditions. Kept in the dark and often isolated from others, the hostages recount days of silence under pain of death. The children who returned have gone into a whispering world afraid to speak despite their freedom and their families’ loving arms. We know that some hostages died in captivity, but we don’t know the circumstances, and frankly nobody in the outside world seems to care to ask either. That includes the ICRC.

Over a hundred hostages are still being held. Where they are being held seems to be anyone’s guess. Their condition? That is too disconcerting to contemplate. The anger that permeates most of our minds has gone beyond disappointment in a world that cares very little for Israel or Jews. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Golda Meir was interviewed by major mainstream media in the US. Even then the western world had started to shift against Israel. Subtlty was never one of her best suits and thank God for that or the war would not have gone well. But one thing that she said has proven to be not only true but prophetic. She said that no country should be bullied by another, and that Jews should never become a “commodity” of terrorism, referring to two previous hijackings by Arab terrorists bent on holding Jews hostage. How absolutely right she was. Would the protests in major global cities been different if the hostages or those killed in the massacres were not Jews? Would pictures of hostages been torn down had they not been Jews?

The response to 10/7 and the hostage taking has risen uncomfortable assessment and logical conclusions that Golda Meir was correct. Jews are a commodity, and the fact that Israel is the only Jewish state in the world the commodity extends by proxy. Some might say that in today’s universe our attention span is very short. That might be true if activism is equally applied. Regretfully, it is not. A good example is the UN which has gone after Israel mercilessly for anything from human rights to genocide. Yet countries like China, Yemen, Syria, Iran, North Korea and hordes of dictatorial states are left alone to continue in slave labor, political incarceration, homosexual persecution, female genitalia mutilation, female suffrage, child labor, and other horrific acts of human degradation with full immunity and indifference. Which begs the question: why? Why is Israel the only country on the UN’s radar? Possibly because the UN has become the mouthpiece for every anti-Israel and antisemite government in the world. The irrelevancy of this insidious organization was sealed when in November of this year, it allowed Iran to chair the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. Maybe the UN should ask Hamas to chair an LGBTQ meeting in Teheran!

It is about time that the US and the EU demand the release of the remaining hostages by pressuring the UN and the ICRC to do their job and take responsibility and accountability for the well-being of the hostages and condemn Hamas for taking them in the first place. We are past platitudes and narratives that whitewash the evil that caused the massacres and the abductions. There should not be even a hint of justification or equal condemnation for “both sides”. The condemnation should be aimed singularly at the savage thugs who cut the border fence, drove through it, and killed over a thousand civilians at a festival or in their homes. There is no “other side” to an unprovoked massacre. Enough is enough.

After the September 5, 1972, Munich Olympics massacre of 11 Israeli athletes, then Prime Minister Golda Meir addressed the Knesset on the investigation of the terror attack. On October 16, she detailed global responses to the attacks and to terrorism. In her special pragmatic and not so subtle way, she held the international community’s feet to the fire by strongly suggesting that terrorism will only be defeated by action. Her quote was as relevant then as it is now. Repulsion without action is useless. It’s only naivete.

“Let us not give way to the illusion that worldwide repulsion at the murderous deeds has put an end to the terrorist activities of these organizations. Expressions to emotion, however strong they may be, will not put an end to terrorism unless they are accompanied by action.” (Golda Meir, October 16, 1972)

Siegel-Itzkovich December 15, 2023. Health Min to ICRC president: Hostages’ medical conditions deteriorating – The Jerusalem Post (

Statement to the Knesset by Prime Minister Meir, (October 16, 1972) (

About the Author
Judith was born in Malta but is also a naturalized American. Former military wife (23 years), married, and currently retired from the financial world as Bank Manager. Spent the last 48 years associated or working for the US forces overseas. Judith has a blog on www.judith60dotcom Judith speaks several languages and is currently learning Hebrew.
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