The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 8, 1997 - 7
Red Cross acknowledges
their silence during Holocaust
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, left, grabs the hand of Ha
complex sports club in Gaza City yesterday on the first da
EREZ CROSSING, Gaza Strip - porarily stop co
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin settlements in di
etanyahu and Palestinian leader the meeting w
...'asser Arafat held face-to-face talks Netanyahu had r
early today for the first time in eight The Israeli rep
months, a senior Palestinian official was interested in
said. perhaps to deflec
The summit, arranged late yester- the spiraling scai
day by U.S. envoy Dennis Ross, could Mossad assassini
signal a thaw in the crisis that has Hamas leader in
brought the peace process to the brink Still, the meeti
of total breakdown. unusual cloak
The official, who spoke on condi- reporters not all
ion of anonymity, said the meeting pound and off
began at the Erez Crossing on the would be no me
Israel-Gaza border just after 2 a.m. Earlier yest
today (8 p.m. EDT yesterday). Palestinian nego
Around that time, reporters, who on implementing
were kept out'of the compound, saw PLO accords in
convoys of limousines entering the cussed civilian
heavily guarded complex from both establishment of
the Palestinian and Israeli sides. the West Bank a
Israel Radio said Ross would par- put off for year
ticipate in part of the meeting and that security concerns
he rest would be one-on-one. Negotiators a
The two leaders last met on Feb. 9, week on opening
just after Netanyahu withdrew Israeli seaports in the G
troops from Hebron - and a month of Palestinian pri
before Israel sparked the current stale- and other issues.
mate by beginning construction on a Ross also met
new Jewish neighborhood in the dis- afternoon with N
puted part of Jesalem. "I am pleased,
Israel TV said Arafat had demand- we've had," he sa
ed Netanyahu agree to at least tem- he hoped the sid
JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Red
Cross handed over 60,000 pages of
World War II-era documents to Israel
yesterday and a top official acknowl-
edged the organization's "moral failure"
in keeping silent while the Nazis mur-
dered six million Jews.
"Very clearly, the (International
Committee of the Red Cross') activities
with regard to the Holocaust are sensed
as a moral failure," said George
Willemin, director of archives for the
"The ICRC admits - yes - that it
has kept silent with regard to the
Holocaust, and I would say that this is
the heart of the moral failure," he added.
The Red Cross has in the past apolo-
gized for "all possible omissions and
mistakes made" during the war years,
but Willemin's statement was the most
explicit acknowledgment by a Red
Cross official that the organization
could and should have done more.
The documents, photographed on 30
reels of microfilm, were given to Yad
Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial
institute. They cover every aspect of the
Red Cross's work relating to the Jews,
hostages and political detainees.
The documents include reports from
field workers about mass deportations
and killings of Jews, rulings by the orga-
nization and its governing bodies,
orders to field workers, and correspon-
dence with Nazi Germany and the allied
Among the facts they reveal is that
the Red Cross discounted reports of a
mass murder of Polish Jewish prisoners
of war at Lublin, Poland, in 1940. a Yad
Vashem statement said.
The ICRC told the World Jewish
Congress in August 1940 that "follow-
ing a thorough investigation by the
German Red Cross representative.' the
Red Cross had concluded the reports
The release of the documents raises
anew the question of whether the Red
Cross should have made public what it
knew about the Holocaust .and spoken
out against it.
Red Cross officials have said that if
they had done so, the Nazis would have
retaliated by stopping the organization
from helping allied prisoners of war..
There were fears that "the work we
were doing, probably quite well, with
respect to the POWs would have been
jeopardized by being too outspoken
about the Nazis, with dire consequences
for those we were helping, without help-
ing those we were not helping," said
ICRC spokesperson Kim Gordon-
In addition, he said there was concern
about compromising the neutrality of
Switzerland, where the Red Cross was
Swiss historian Jean-Claude Favez,
speaking yesterday at Yad Vashem, said
the Red Cross in effect became a tool of
Swiss foreign policy.
Favez, whose book "The Impossible
Mission?" details the role of the Red
Cross during the war, said the organiza-
tion's fears that intervening for the Jews
would have jeopardized its aid to allied
POWs were probably exaggerated.
"The Germans had as much interest
in the protection of their own soldiers in
allied prison camps as was the con-
verse," he said.
Gordon-Bates said the Red Cross has
spoken out in the past when it was clear
that doing so would help victims, but he
said it was not clear that was true in
World War li.
"Morally, we should have spoken
out," he said. "Practically, would it have
But Favez said if the Red Cross had
condemned the Nazi genocide of the
Jews, the allied governments might not
have rejected calls to bomb the railroads
leading to the death camps.
"The passivity of the ICRC and the
'victory first' policy of the Allies were
mutually supportive," Favez said. They
share the guilt."
Yehuda Bauer, director of research at
Yad Vashem said the Red Cross could
not have stopped the Holocaust, but
might have been able to save many Jews
if it had only tried.
"It is not so much a matter of
standing up against German might. It
was more a question of how one
pestered the Nazis," said Byuer, who
is himself a Holocaust survivor. "The
Red Cross could not get into the
death camps, but it might have gone
into some of the ghettoes and other
places like that."
As the war continued, the ICRC did
cooperate discreetly with the American
Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
and other bodies trying to ease the
plight of European Jews.
amas founder Ahmed Yassin after arriving at the Islamic
y after his arrival home.
.t in month,
instruction of Jewish
disputed areas before
was scheduled, but
ports said Netanyahu
holding the summit,
ct attention away from
dal over the botched
tion attempt against a
ng was held under an
of secrecy, with
lowed into the com-
ficials saying there
dia event afterward.
erday, Israeli and
tiators resumed talks
g the tattered Israel-
Jerusalem. They dis-
issues including the
f roadlinks between
and Gaza - an idea
s because of Israel's
iso are to meet thi
g Palestinian air and
raza Strip, the release
soners held by Israel,
etanyahu and Arafat.
with the discussions
aid afterward, adding
es would soon "move
forward on the broader questic
will allow us to put the wholej
back on track."
Senior Israeli and Palestinian offi-
cials are to meet next week in
Washington to discuss broader issues,
like Israel's demand for Arafat to
crack down against Hamas, and the
Palestinians' demands that Israel end
Jewish settlement building in disputed
areas and hand over more West Bank
Since the breakdown in talks, the
region has been beset by crises,
including three bombings that killed
30 people in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Palestinians have suffered a pro-
longed and economically crippling
The resumption of talk - agreed
on at meetings between Israeli and
Palestinian officials at the United
Nations last week -- had been over-
shadowed by the scandal over the
failed assassination attempt in Jordan
on Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal.
To get back two captured Mossad
agents and defuse a crisis with Jordan,
Israel released the founder of Hamas,
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, and 20 other
prisoners. Israel now fears the prison-
er releases will undermine its
demands that Arafat do more to rein in
Ilinton briefed on donation
potential of coffee attendees
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Before President
nton welcomed a small gathering of
businessmen to an unusual coffee in the
Oval Office last year, he had reason to
expect that their session would enrich
Democratic Party coffers.
"Mr. President: ... the five attendees
of this coffee are $100,000 contributors
to the DNC," a White House aide wrote
to Clinton on a briefing paper prepared
for the May 1, 1996, event.
xactly seven days later, four of the
e visitors each came through with
$100,000 donations to the Democratic
Party, according to federal election
records. Three of the donors had never
given to the party before.
The circumstances surrounding the
event and the subsequent donations
provide the strongest correlation to date
between an exclusive presidential audi-
ence at the White House and the direct
payment of large sums to the
Democratic National Committee.
"This is a coffee that the attorney
general ... will have to take a long, hard
look at," Sen. Fred Thompson (R-
Tenn.), chair of the Senate panel inves-
tigating campaign fund-raising abuses,
In- scores of other White House cof-
fees during the 1996 campaign, larger
groups of Democratic supporters were
ushered into the Map Room in the resi-
dential quarters, allowed to converse
about current affairs with the president
and asked at a later time to support the
party. Administration officials have
asserted that there was no link between
participation in a coffee and a donation.
But newly available documents pre-
pared for the May 1 event show that in
this case Clinton was informed in
advance about the guests' precise level
of giving. The donors then were hosted
in the Oval Office - usually off-limits
for fund-raising events - and four of
them responded afterward with the list-
The location of the event, which
came to light only this week with the
revelation that in-house videotapes
were made of 44 coffees, raises new
questions for investigators about
whether the White House was improp-
erly used for political fund-raising pur-
"What all of these pieces of informa-
tion scream for is an independent inves-
tigation of exactly what happened," said
Jan Baran, a Washington attorney who
specializes in election law and has rep-
resented Republicans. "What were
these people told about the invitation?
What did the president say and do?
How did all the money get to the DNC
subsequently? We don't have answers
for aiy of this."
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