Hadassah demands that world ‘end the silence’


Hadassah, the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States, held an event during the UN Commission on the Status of Women meetings to highlight both the irrefutable evidence that Hamas and its collaborators committed war crimes, including rape, during their Oct. 7 attack and the UN’s slow and disingenuous response to holding Hamas accountable.

Subsequently, Hadassah National President Carol Ann Schwartz delivered a petition signed by 129,859 Hadassah supporters from 118 countries and a letter signed by 116 organizations to UN Secretary-General António Guterres demanding action, justice and accountability.

“Rape should never be used as a weapon of war. Not in Israel. Not anywhere. We cannot let our international institutions undermine efforts to pursue justice,” said Schwartz. “UN Women denied our request to speak about this issue during Commission on the Status of Women meetings, but we will not be silent. For the sake of women everywhere, we must come together around the world to speak the truth and demand action”

At the event, Schwartz spoke about Hadassah’s End The Silence campaign and historic global mobilization, which marked International Women’s Day last Friday, March 8, when 189 End The Silence events were held in 23 cities in 17 countries around the world, including the United States.

“Let’s be clear,” said Schwartz. “The UN’s current recommendation that the biased, antisemitic Commission of Inquiry (COI) established May 2021 be the primary group investigating these crimes can only be interpreted as a disingenuous move designed to bury evidence and undermine justice.”

Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy, chair of the Civil Commission on Oct. 7 Crimes by Hamas Against Women and Children, discussed her group’s efforts to document the evidence of Hamas’ war crimes against humanity on Oct. 7, including the brutal acts of rape and sexual violence, and to determine the path needed to pursue justice.

“The denial and silence from the world’s most vital international human rights bodies constitutes a betrayal not just of Israeli women, but of all humanity. To confront this, we are committed to meticulously documenting every detail through a comprehensive legal framework and rigorous global standards. Our aim is to fight denial and to ensure accountability for the perpetrators,” said Dr. Elkayam-Levy.

Marie-Sarah Seeberger, head of International Affairs at Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, spoke about her work to bring the sexual violence that occurred on Oct. 7 to the attention of the French government. Céline Bardet, founder of We Are NOT Weapons of War, spoke about sexual violence linked to armed conflict.

“I have borne witness to sexual violence used as a weapon of war all over the world, and it is a war crime that should be vigorously prosecuted everywhere. Israel is no different,” said Bardet. “We will continue to gather and process evidence of Hamas’ war crimes in order to seek justice for the Israeli women and girls they brutalized.”

The 129,859 signatures on the petition came from 118 countries including, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Polynesia, Portugal, Republic of South Africa, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, The Bahamas, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States of America, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Learn more about Hadassah’s End The Silence campaign at Report submitted by Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America.