News and Events

Rambam-affiliated Editors Demand Immediate Release of Hostages

Publication Date: 11/2/2023 8:00 AM

Following the horrific terrorist attack in Israel carried out by Hamas on October 7, and the resulting “Swords of Iron” war, Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal recently published an editorial calling for the immediate release of all Israeli hostages taken to Gaza.

Free Our Hostages Now! Photography: Rambam HCC.Free Our Hostages Now! Photography: Rambam HCC.

Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal (RMMJ) is an international peer-reviewed medical publication proudly sponsored by Rambam Health Care Campus (Rambam), in Haifa, Israel. The editors have long held a policy not to write editorials unless they were of true importance for the international medical community. This is understandable: its readers are in the tens of thousands from more than 60 nations and territories. However,

Editor In Chief, Shraga Blazer, wrote the editorial in collaboration with his associate editors, Professor Rafi Beyar, Professor Karl Skorecki, Nobel Laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover, and Dr. Itamar Ashkenazi. All the editors have close ties to Rambam and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Skorecki is also the former dean of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University, Safed, Israel. In light of the increasing instances of anti-Semitism in international academic circles, and as members of there of Israel’s prestigious medical and research institutions, they realized that a public response to current events was mandatory.

The editorial begins, “… silence and standing on the sidelines is not an option in light of the atrocities and inhumanity we witnessed on October 7. …Currently, there are about 230 women, men, children, and babies being held hostage by Hamas; among them cancer patients and others with serious disorders, doctors, and other medical professionals.”

The authors continue, “We cannot rest and must address the plight of our hostages who are being held by terrorists motivated by hatred and showing no respect for life, whether that of their enemies, their own people, or even themselves.” The editors criticize the silence of the international community, which has rarely condemned the ongoing firing of thousands of rockets and mortars upon Israel’s citizens. They argue, “Barely a word is spoken or published about the [other] abducted Israeli civilians and soldiers who, for years, remain hostages of Hamas. They are secluded from civilization with no fundamental rights guaranteed by international law.”

The editors call upon the global medical community to take a stand and to demand the immediate release of all the hostages abducted on October 7. They point out that “Organizations whose main purpose is to destroy those who differ from them—whatever their rationale—do not merit the empathy of those who cherish life. Their moral values have nothing in common with those that the medical profession stands for, and for which all too many medical professionals have died.”

Importantly, the editors point out the important role of medical professionals, particularly within academia in speaking to the world about the Hamas-held hostages and the events of October 7, 2023. “The consequences are dire when highly re¬spected medical and academic leaders confuse their students, protégées, and each other by making cowardly and ambiguous statements that fail to distinguish between Israel and Hamas and other terror organizations. They become actively complicit in the perpetuation of hostilities that are spilling over in university campuses including faculties of medicine and medical centers worldwide, where Jewish people are now being threatened and haras¬sed. When students chant on-campus, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” the presi¬dents, provosts, deans, and medical center directors should know that this chant is a call for extermi¬nating the more than seven million Jews residing in Israel—not one Jew remaining on any swath of the land of sovereign Israel—in short, no Jewish State.”

As Israeli medical professionals, Blazer, Beyar, Skorecki, Ciechanover, and Ashkenazi consider it a mandate and privilege to do good – even in wartime. They consider the provision of medical aid to the injured as an obligation and are proud of their activities to share knowledge with medical professionals – to the benefit of the Palestinian population. They point out that despite the current hostilities many critically ill children from the Palestinian Authority and Gaza continue to receive treatment in Israel. Furthermore, they are strong believers that medicine can create a path toward peace.

The anguish of Israel’s medical professionals is clear in the closing words of the editorial: “We had hoped to be the bridge to future peace. The October 7 massacre has shattered that trust. Do not be complicit in murderous fabrications and lies; join in our demand to immediately and unconditionally release all the hostages. Do it now!”

Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal is an international Open Access journal with no subscription or submission fees. Visit rmmj.org.il and start reading!