International Red Cross Discriminates
Against Israeli Red Cross
Despite its valorous track
record, the Magen
David Adom Society is not recognized by
the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement. This is because it is unwilling
to adopt the Red Cross or Red Crescent as
its emblem, choosing rather to use the Red
Shield of David, whose use in the field of
humanitarian relief dates to 1930.
The symbol of the Red Cross, the inverted flag of
Switzerland, does not have an inherent religious significance.
However, when in 1929, Islamic states insisted on the inclusion of
the emblem of the Red Crescent, the juxtaposed emblems of the Red
Cross and the Red Crescent came to have a religious implication.
As a result, short of adopting either emblem, the
Magen David Adom is excluded from membership to the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Since 1993, UN Watch has systematically lobbied
the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies at their Geneva
headquarters, as well as the American Red Cross, to urge them to
admit the Magen David Adom to the international fraternity.
Furthermore, the Chairman of UN Watch, Ambassador Morris Abram, is
one of eighteen experts appointed by the International Red Cross and
Red Crescent Movement and charged with finding a favorable resolution
to the emblem issue.
In times of conflict, the Red Shield of David has
"customary" recognition as the emblem used by the medical
services of the armed forces. Under international humanitarian law it
must be respected in the same way as the Red Cross or the Red
The humanitarian work carried out by the Magen
David Adom and other National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is
too important to be enmeshed in politics. The Magen David Adom is an
organization whose effectiveness, honor and integrity are globally
recognized. The fact that its choice of emblem bans it from
membership in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies is untenable.
The ethical cornerstone of the International Red
Cross and Red Crescent Movement is a shared desire to ensure that
civilization operates morally and compassionately, particularly
during times of war. Israel, as much as any country, deserves to be
included within that circle of civilization.