How the Dutch Red Cross Abetted the Nazis during World War II

March 12 2018

Last month, the president of the Netherlands’ Red Cross visited Israel to apologize formally for the organization’s conduct during the German occupation of the country. He was moved to do so by a recent book on the subject written by Regina Grüter, which assembles much evidence to prove what Dutch Jews themselves have long believed, as Ofer Aderet writes. (Free registration may be required.)

At the beginning of 1941, when the order came to stop accepting blood donations from Jews, the Dutch Red Cross accepted the decree . . . and didn’t send a protest letter. In February of that year, when 427 Jews were arrested in Amsterdam and sent to Buchenwald, the Dutch Red Cross sent a letter to the German occupying authorities wondering whether the organization was allowed to send packages to these Jews. The answer was as one would expect: it was forbidden to help Jews. The Red Cross simply accepted the order and sent aid packages only to non-Jewish Dutch political prisoners.

When in late 1941 the Germans ordered that all Jewish volunteers be dropped from the Red Cross, the group [again] followed these orders without a word. And the archives contain not one mention of any attempt to oppose these orders, or any underground attempts by the group to help Jews.

The research also didn’t uncover any evidence of discussions among the group’s leaders about the fate of the Dutch Jews. Grüter’s book leaves the impression that the Red Cross people acted as mere bureaucrats who carried out the Nazi occupiers’ orders to the letter and never tried to make things hard for the Germans—in clear violation of their role as aid workers. . . . “They weren’t anti-Semites, they were simply neutral,” Grüter says.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Netherlands, Red Cross, World War II

The Danger of Hollow Fixes to the Iran Deal

March 20 2018

In January, the Trump administration announced a 120-day deadline for the so-called “E3”—Britain, France, and Germany—to agree to solutions for certain specific flaws in the 2015 agreement to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Omri Ceren explains why it’s necessary to get these fixes right:

[Already in October], the administration made clear that it considered the deal fatally flawed for at least three reasons: a weak inspections regime in which the UN’s nuclear watchdog can’t access Iranian military facilities, an unacceptable arrangement whereby the U.S. had to give up its most powerful sanctions against ballistic missiles even as Iran was allowed to develop ballistic missiles, and the fact that the deal’s eventual expiration dates mean Iran will legally be allowed to get within a hair’s breadth of a nuclear weapon. . . .

A team of American negotiators has been working on getting the E3 to agree to a range of fixes, and is testing whether there is overlap between the maximum that the Europeans can give and the minimum that President Trump will accept. The Europeans in turn are testing the Iranians to gauge their reactions and will likely not accept any fixes that would cause Iran to bolt.

The negotiations are problematic. The New York Times reported that, as far as the Europeans are concerned, the exercise requires convincing Trump they’ve “changed the deal without actually changing it.” Public reports about the inspection fix suggest that the Europeans are loath to go beyond urging the International Atomic Energy Commission to request inspections, which the agency may be too intimidated to do. The ballistic-missile fix is shaping up to be a political disaster, with the Europeans refusing to incorporate anything but long-range missiles in the deal. That would leave us with inadequate tools to counter Iran’s development of ballistic missiles that could be used to wipe Israel, the Saudis, and U.S. regional bases off the map. . . .

There is a [significant] risk the Trump administration may be pushed to accept the hollow fixes acceptable to the Europeans. Fixing the deal in this way would be the worst of all worlds. It would functionally enshrine the deal under a Republican administration. Iran would be open for business, and this time there would be certainty that a future president will not act to reverse the inevitable gold rush. Just as no deal would have been better than a bad deal, so no fix would be better than a bad fix.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Donald Trump, Europe, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy