AACR fails to condemn Hamas, readily condemned Russia

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) – the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to researching, preventing, and curing cancer – sent a letter to its Israeli affiliate merely expressing “sadness and sympathy for all those who have lost loved ones or who have been otherwise impacted by the violence.”

The letter goes on to describe “violence in the Middle East” but fails to include a clear and simple statement condemning the vicious and obscene massacre by Hamas terrorists in Israel and their taking of nearly 240 hostages.

Established in 1907, the Philadelphia-based AACR represents 54,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers and patient advocates living in 130 countries and territories around the world, with a third living outside the US, and publishes 10 scientific journals. 

More than 1,000 Israeli cancer researchers and oncologists in the Israeli Society for Cancer Research (ISCR) wrote to AACR president Dr. Philip D. Greenberg and CEO Dr. Margaret Foti, complaining about its message entitled “We Stand in Solidarity with All Those Affected by the Crisis in the Middle East.”  

“While you expressed your sadness and sympathy for ‘all those who have lost loved ones or who have been otherwise impacted by the violence’ (which is an expected humane reaction), we do wish to convey our disappointment regarding what was omitted from your statement and to voice our deep concerns,” the 1,000+ Israelis stated: “We found the wording of the letter, which describes ‘violence in the Middle East’ in general to be somewhat disconnected from the reality and as such, hurtful. The letter did not include a clear and simple statement condemning the October 7 massacre.”

People gather and light candles to show solidarity with Israel and remember the victims following an attack by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, at Dizengoff square in Tel Aviv, Israel October 12, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/JANIS LAIZANS)

The ISCR members added that “taking a clear moral stand against brutal terrorism has nothing to do with politics or with offering sympathy to all innocent victims. While the AACR message aimed to offer solidarity, it bluntly failed to acknowledge the atrocities and their perpetrators. For example, the words ‘Hamas’ ‘Islamic Jihad,’ or ‘terror attack’ are not even included in the letter. Neither is the tragic fact that at least 220 people, of all ages and various nationalities and religious beliefs, were illegally abducted from their homes and are being held as hostages in Gaza. Your letter reads as if no one is responsible for the current ‘humanitarian crisis’ that is mentioned in your message.”  

The ISCR continued “Following 9/11, how would you react to a statement that laments ‘the sad crash of a few airplanes into some buildings’ or a message of sympathy to ‘all those affected by the unfolding violence between the US and Al-Qaeda’?  In addition to the hundreds of murder victims and the thousands of injured people, at least 220 civilians and soldiers were kidnapped, among them cancer patients and about 30 children. This was not mentioned at all in your letter… Why does your statement not even call for the immediate release of those poor children and the other hostages.” 

The Israelis also reminded the AACR heads that “Palestinian cancer patients from Gaza and the West Bank are routinely treated in Israeli hospitals. In the past decade, over 500 Palestinian patients per year, including children (hemato-oncologic patients), mainly from Gaza but also from the West Bank, were treated in hospitals throughout Israel. In fact, the niece of Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, was recently treated for cancer in Israel. Moreover, when Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, was a prisoner in Israel, he received life-saving cancer treatments. Israeli doctors literally saved his life. Additionally, some Israeli hospitals train Palestinian oncologists from the West Bank. Lastly, we would like to stress the chilling fact that several of the Israeli hostages are known to be human rights and peace activists and used to drive Palestinian cancer patients – at their own expense, out of human solidarity – from Gaza into Israel, for the purpose of cancer treatments.”

The AACR was quick and unequivocal in condemning Russia

The ISCR concluded that in other global conflicts, the AACR didn’t shy away from a clear moral standing. In its statement in March of last year, there were no ‘two sides’ and no general ‘crisis in Eastern Europe’ but a clear condemnation of Russia. The AACR and its members stand in solidarity with the citizens of Ukraine during the Russian attack on their country. Ukrainian cancer patients of all ages are vulnerable especially at this time while their care is interrupted by acts of war, criminal attacks on medical facilities, and dwindling food and supplies.” 

The ISCR concluded that the AACR’s “balanced response –unconsciously or consciously – puts [Israel] on an equal moral ground with Hamas with regard to the human suffering caused by the recent events. This is a false and hurtful assertion.  Nevertheless, we still believe that it is not too late to correct it.”

No response from Greenberg and Foti has yet been sent to the ISCR.





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