The depraved and barbaric murder and kidnapping of innocent men, women, and children by Hamas on October 7 will remain a blot on humanity for an eternity. There have been many failures of civilized society since. There have been a few bright spots. The overwhelming global response has been troubling, disheartening, and simply dreadful.

The betrayal of the Jewish People by three elite university presidents last week was the final straw. The fact that Claudine Gay of Harvard, Sally Kornbluth of MIT, and Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania could not answer a simple “yes” to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s question, whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” violated the schools’ codes of conduct or constituted “bullying or harassment” is beyond the pale. President Magill has already resigned. The other two should do the same. They are a reflection of the dark face of society today. At a time when anti-Semitism has risen by 500%, the three presidents’ equivocation over a “lob” question by the Congresswoman from New York just emboldened the anti-Semites of the world.

I could only imagine with eyes wide open what it must have felt living in Germany in 1933. Elie Wiesel’s statement rings true more than ever. He said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.” The presidents of every university should read and re-read Elie Wiesel’s wise words.
Campuses and universities are not the only ones to totally abdicate their responsibilities. The Red Cross has been another major failure. It has a budget of $3 billion. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not been allowed to visit one of the hostages taken by Hamas on October 7. The ICRC must demand to see the hostages. They are the most powerful relief organization in the world. They must demand that they be allowed to visit the hostages to ensure that they are being treated humanely. The Geneva Convention and International Law give the Red Cross enforcement powers. Their inability to demand access to help or comfort Jews still held hostage is reminiscent of its failures during the Holocaust to visit concentration camps. Had they demanded to do so, countless lives could have been saved.
On another front, America’s inability to crack down on roving anti-Semitic mobs, whether at Hillcrest High School, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, or various bridge closures in New York, is encouraging further bad behavior. The French, to their credit, have prevented these types of actions from the get-go. America should do the same. These have not been peaceful protests; they have been violent.
Israel has been the one shining light in all of this. After suffering the worst single day in its 75-year-old history, it remains a beacon of hope. Jews the world over have come together in ways I have never seen in my lifetime. The outpouring of support from Jews and many Christians has been incredible. This has been a fight for civilization and the world’s soul. Good will defeat evil. There is no choice.

Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.