Lawmakers Hail Inclusion of Israeli Branch Of Red Cross Into International Organization

New York elected officials joined in a celebration of the inclusion of the Israeli branch of the Red Cross, Magen David Adom, into the international Red Cross.

While yesterday’s breakfast – hosted by the American Red Cross in Greater New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council – was celebratory, there was an acknowledgement of the struggles the MDA faces in gaining full recognition.

“I was fearful, honestly, that once again the deal was going to fall through, that there would be some excuse, some inertia that would prevent this from happening,” Senator Clinton, the keynote speaker, said. “It’s been a hard-fought victory.”

The Red Cross’s recognition “comes at a particularly poignant, painful, tragic time,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to the terrorist killings of two Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit, 19, on Sunday.

A December amendment to the Geneva Conventions accepted the neutral red crystal as an alternate symbol to the red cross or red crescent. Israel will use the red crystal as its symbol of protection when working outside of the country, and the star within the crystal as the official symbol of its chapter of the international Red Cross. The Magen David Adom and the Palestinian Red Crescent were officially accepted in a June 22 vote of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

“What we hope is that the crystal will become the surrounding emblem” for all three symbols – the red cross, red crescent, and red Star of David, the CEO of the American Red Cross in greater New York, Theresa Bischoff, said after the event. “We will certainly support the international use of the symbol.”

“This is what the Israeli government thinks is an equitable compromise, so it’s acceptable,” the executive vice president of American Friends of Magen David Adom, Daniel Allen, said of the acceptance of a neutral symbol rather than the official inclusion of the Star of David.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York offered a harsher view of the compromise. “Let us all hope that in the future the world will not see the Magen David so offensive that it must be contained in another insignia,” he said. “Rather, it will be seen for what it is – a beacon of commitment.”

The American Red Cross has withheld six years of dues from the international organization in protest of the exclusion of the MDA.