Red Cross, Crescent And Star


Hartford Courant, Editorial, December 19, 2005


Logic tells us there should not be a dispute over what emblem to use for the World's oldest and foremost relief agency. The International Red Cross is what it has always been, a humanitarian organization that for more than a century has crossed national boundaries to help people in distress.


But decades ago, Muslims insisted that the Red Crescent be accepted in countries that chose to use it. Red Cross members eventually agreed.


If the Red Crescent is acceptable to the Red Cross, why not the Star of David? Israelis have asked the question since 1948. They have been refused membership because they prefer using the Star for their Magen David Adom relief operations in Israel.


But miracles are possible. Earlier this month, Red Cross members made a grand, although belated, compromise. They approved a proposal to change their symbol. Relief workers and vehicles would have a new emblem, a diamond-shaped red "crystal" on a white background.


Affiliates that also wish to use the Red Cross under the red diamond/crystal may do so. The same goes for affiliates that prefer the Red Crescent or Star of David.


What took so long? Nationalist politics and religion, of course. Symbols matter, but up to a point. They should matter far less than helping people in distress anywhere in the world.


We were tempted to call the agreement Solomonic. No such fortune. After the congratulations, Syria's representatives at the Red Cross raised an objection. They claimed that admitting Israel as a member of the international organization should wait until the Israelis admit Syrian Red Crescent relief workers to the Golan Heights, which has been occupied since 1967.


The birth of the diamond/crystal requires the approval of every Red Cross member. Do Syrians want to be remembered as the lone holdout? Aren't there other, far more meaningful problems that Damascus should be working on? Of course.


Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant








From: Mark Rosenblit

To: letters@courant.com

Cc: readerep@courant.com

Sent: Tuesday, December 20, 2005 13:56 PM

Subject: Mistaking Spit For Rain




Rarely have I seen a more error-ridden Editorial than "Red Cross, Crescent And Star" (December 19, 2005), concerning the recent adoption of the neutral Red Crystal emblem by the International Committee of the Red Cross. 


Firstly, the ICRC's more than half-century refusal to recognize the Red Star of David, in addition to the Red Crescent and the Red Cross, as a permissible insignia for member societies of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has had little to do with the propriety of recognizing yet another insignia and everything to do with finding an acceptable pretext for barring the Jewish State's national medical relief agency, Magen David Adom, from membership in that international humanitarian organization.  After all, the ICRC had no problem accepting, as additional permissible insignias, either (pre-1980) Iran's Red Lion And Sun or Nazi Germany's eagle clutching a cross in its talons.  Moreover, during a November 1999 meeting of the International Federation in Geneva, Switzerland, Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the ICRC, demonstrated his organization’s true attitude towards the Jewish State by candidly declaring to Bernadine Healy, President of the American Red Cross:  If we are going to have the Shield of David, why would we not have to accept the Swastika?”


Secondly, the ICRC did not agree -- in a grand ecumenical effort to create a single inclusive symbol -- to change its insignia to the neutral Red Crystal, below which individual member societies of the International Federation would be allowed to place a Red Cross, a Red Crescent or a Red Star of David.  Rather, the ICRC merely added the Red Crystal as a third permissible insignia.  This means that, unlike every other national medical relief agency in the World, MDA will be forced to replace its “impermissible” national insignia with the Red Crystal (or the Red Cross or the Red Crescent) on all international missions.  However, if given prior permission by a host country, MDA would be allowed to insert a small Red of Star of David within the Red Crystal emblem during such a mission.


Moreover, altruism played no part in the ICRC’s decision to approve the Red Crystal, as that organization thereby sought to achieve two objectives, one injurious to Israel and the other beneficial to itself, namely, (1) Force Israel to recognize the Palestinian Red Crescent Society as the national medical relief agency of “Palestine”, a nation that does not presently exist; and (2) Convince the American Red Cross to release to the ICRC over 50 million dollars in withheld dues.  The ICRC’s first objective has already been achieved.  In order to obtain the prior consent of the Palestinian Authority to the adoption of the Red Crystal, without which consent the ICRC was unwilling to consider the additional insignia, MDA (and, through it, the State of Israel) officially recognized the Palestinian Red Crescent Society as the national medical relief agency of “Palestine”.


Furthermore, by incorrectly identifying Syria as the sole dissenter in the process, the Editorial unfairly impugned the anti-Israel credentials of the 38 other nations which also refused to vote in favor of adopting the Red Crystal (i.e., 29 nations, including Syria, voted against adoption, and 10 nations abstained). 


Thirdly, the adoption of the Red Crystal by the ICRC as an additional permissible insignia did not constitute MDA as a member society of the International Federation.  That will require a separate vote and, no doubt, more humiliating concessions. 


Yes, as the Editorial opined, "miracles are possible", but I prefer not to mistake spit for rain.




Mark Rosenblit

14 Coolidge Road

West Hartford, CT  06117



[Note:  In June 2006, both Israel’s Magen David Adom and the Palestinian Authority’s Palestinian Red Crescent Society were both admitted as member societies of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.  However, should anyone thereby conclude that a historic injustice against Israel has finally been redressed, it is pointed out that the I.C.R.C., which is officially dedicated to eschewing all partisan activities in favor of providing international humanitarian relief in all situations of conflict, has nevertheless continued to ally itself with those nations and entities which seek to undermine international recognition of the Jewish State as well as the latter’s legal claims to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  For, although Israel’s national medical relief agency is now a member Society of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, its price of admission thereto included both having to capitulate on the international use of its official emblem and having to agree that the medical relief agency of the non-sovereign Palestinian Authority is to be accorded international recognition equal to that of the national medical relief agency of sovereign Israel.  Accordingly, in an exercise of extreme partisanship, the I.C.R.C.’s official recognition of Israel’s national medical relief agency was conditioned, not only upon the MDA’s international abandonment of its own sovereign emblem, but also upon Israel’s implicit acceptance of a nonexistent “Palestine”. -- Mark Rosenblit]



[Note:  Continued humiliation of Israel’s Magen David Adom by the International Committee of the Red Cross justifies Israel’s withdrawal of the MDA from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.  Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]


An SOS for MDA




August 28, 2011


We’d be better off without whatever benefits Red Cross association provides rather than maintaining membership under shameful conditions.


In egregious efforts to preserve its hard-won yet problematic 2005 agreement with the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, Magen David Adom -- Israel’s national emergency ambulance service -- performed bizarre flip-flops this week.


Its commitment to its own red Star of David emblem appeared equivocal. Ambulances operating beyond the Green Line were asked to undergo supposedly routine maintenance checks, but emerged without their logo.


Instead, a white six-pointed star outline framing the Rod of Asclepius symbol of medicine was featured against a red circular background, surrounded by inscriptions proclaiming the vehicle as municipal. Formal affiliation with MDA was erased.


The unexpected facade of these revamped ambulances provoked protest. It looked like capitulation to Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement insistence that MDA’s time-honored (from 1930) logo – steadfastly refused Red Cross sanction for over 80 years – not be displayed outside Israel. Only within Israel is the Movement willing to overlook its use.


By removing its symbol and visible evidence of connection with beyond-Green-Line rescue services, MDA seemed to cave in to pressure. It also appeared to acquiesce to the contention that 1949’s armistice lines are Israel’s recognized boundaries and that anything beyond is Palestine.


Embarrassed by the commotion, MDA explained away the logo-switch subterfuge as a decision to remove its traditional emblem from all community-owned ambulances, although invariably these are jointly operated with MDA.


To deflect domestic criticism, MDA subsequently promised to switch logos on all local authority-owned ambulances, regardless of which side of the Green Line they’re from. Inside-Green-Line vehicles may even be face-lifted first.


But such bureaucratic acrobatics don’t change the fact that MDA bends over backward to please the Red Cross by altering the status quo. Whether this will affect some ambulances also within the Green Line is immaterial. The MDA is complying in some measure with Red Cross demands in accordance with the humiliating compromise concocted almost six years ago.


Despite its apolitical conceit, the Red Cross has consistently evinced flagrant anti-Jewish/anti-Israel prejudice.


In 1999, Cornelio Sommaruga, then-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, exclaimed: “If we’re going to have the Shield of David, why would we not have to accept the Swastika?” In 2005, the Red Cross reluctantly consented to end its Star of David boycott with a novel ploy: pretending the star doesn’t exist and replacing it with a “neutral” red diamond- shape, euphemistically dubbed a “crystal.” Within it, the star may feature unofficially – where tolerated. This applied exclusively to the Jewish symbol, which, from Movement perspective, stayed invisible. Only thus could Magen David Adom avoid lowly observer status vis-à-vis the Red Cross.


When Israel first applied for membership in 1949, it was instructed to adopt either the Christian cross or the Muslim crescent to qualify for admission. Yesteryear’s acutely vulnerable and impoverished newborn Jewish state mustered the pluck to insist that its first-aid services won’t operate under emblems historically or currently inimical to Jews.


If ever an organization existed that didn’t merit Israeli concessions, it’s the Red Cross. It notoriously remained aloof to Jewish bloodletting throughout the Holocaust.


ICRC Archives director George Willemin delivered World War II documents to Yad Vashem in 1997 and declared: “The ICRC admits that it kept silent.... This is the heart of its moral failure.”


Our officialdom’s meek submission to the disgraceful logo-substitution and the alacrity to broker deals at any cost isn’t pragmatism. Compromise without honor isn’t necessarily prudent.


We’d be better off without whatever benefits Red Cross association provides rather than maintaining membership under shameful conditions. We had managed quite nicely outside the Red Cross. We can carry on as well without it. There’s no ignominy in not belonging to an organization that accords full membership to such benefactors of humanity as North Korea, Iran, Syria and Sudan.


All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2011




[Note:  Another serious issue has come to light.  Despite Israel’s humiliating concessions to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (which comprises the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and each member Society thereof), the MDA’s employment (with the permission of the host country) of a small Red Jewish Star within the Red Crystal emblem on international humanitarian missions paradoxically places MDA personnel in grave danger from hostile forces that may be operating within the host country.  This so because the Third Additional Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions (formally known as “Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III), 8 December 2005”), which authorized the use of the Red Crystal emblem as a third permissible medical relief agency emblem, deliberately withholds international protective status from MDA personnel who choose to embellish the Red Crystal emblem with a Red Star of David on international humanitarian missions.  Moreover, after its ratification of the Third Additional Protocol on November 22, 2007, Israel was eventually pressured into formally declaring this fact.  As set forth on the I.C.R.C. website:


Declaration by the State of Israel made on 5 November 2008:


On 5 November 2008, the State of Israel deposited with the Swiss Federal Council the following declaration referring to the text contained in the instrument of ratification of the Protocol III deposited by the State of Israel on 22 November 2007 (notification GEN 3/07 of 26 November 2007) (original English version):


«The Embassy of the State of Israel presents its compliments to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and has the honour to refer to the declaration made by Israel upon ratification of the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions.  In response to questions raised in relation to this declaration, the State of Israel wishes to confirm that this declaration is not intended to enable Israel to derogate from any of the provisions of the Protocol. It also recognizes that under the terms of the Protocol, the Red Crystal, when used as a protective emblem, may not incorporate any additional emblems or combine them as part of the protective emblem.»


In sum, this means that, on international humanitarian missions, MDA personnel will be stripped of the international protective status accorded to them by the Geneva Conventions if (after obtaining permission from the host country) they dare to embellish their Red Crystal emblem with a Red Jewish Star.  -- Mark Rosenblit]




Return to main page