Israel to Seek Having the Red Magen David Adom Recognized by the Icrc at the Group’s Meeting in Gene
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Israel to Seek Having the Red Magen David Adom Recognized by the Icrc at the Group’s Meeting in Gene

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When the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) holds its 25th quadrennial conference in Geneva October 23, Israel will once again seek to have its Magen David Adom admitted into the International Red Cross.

Since the establishment of the Jewish State, the ICRC has refused to accept the Red Star of David as an international symbol along with the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and Iran’s Lion and Sun.

The ICRC has been “held in blackmail” out of fear that if it accepted the Jewish symbol, the Arab countries would leave the organization it was charged Thursday by Rabbi Rubin Dobin, of Miami Beach, Fla., international chairman of Operation Recognition. The volunteer organization has sought for the last nine years to have Magen David Adom recognized by the ICRC.

Dubin spoke at an informal hearing in a Senate hearing room, sponsored by Sens. Paula Hawkins (R. Fla.) and Christopher Dodd (D. Conn.), who along with Dubin, are national co-chairmen of Operation Recognition. Dubin said there are similar committees in 50 other countries.


The Senate unanimously adopted a resolution, introduced by Hawkins and Dodd Thursday, as it did in 1982, calling on the ICRC to recognize the Israeli group. “This has gone on so long,” Hawkins said. Both Hawkins and Dodd noted the excellent work Magen David Adom does in Israel and in international rescue work.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R. Pa.) said it is “just a tragedy” that Israel has been excluded. He noted that Israel needs the international guarantee that the Magan David Adom symbol will be a sign of protection in case of a conflict. A similar point was made by Steve Shaw, executive director of the Jewish War Veterans.

“It is a terrible shame that what can only be called anti-Semitism in some parts of the world has deprived the Jewish people of the right to use their religious symbol, the Star of David, in the same way as others use their own religious symbols,” Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R. NY) said. Dubin stressed that the American Red Cross has since 1949 led the effort to have Magen David Adom recognized.

Sherman Cohen, a professor of international law at the Georgetown University Law Center and president of the American Section of the International Society of Jewish Lawyers and Jurors, said the issue was not legal, as ICRC officials claim, but political.

Cohen said that the ICRC in 1907 adopted a convention with a single symbol, the Red Cross. But when Turkey joined and later Iran and Egypt, they agreed to the convention with the reservation that they would not use the cross since it is a Christian symbol.

There were no objections, Cohen noted. Later the ICRC approved the Red Crescent and Iran’s Lion and Sun as official symbols. After the Shah was overthrown, Iran adopted the Red Crescent.

But Cohen said when Israel applied for membership in 1949 it made the exact reservation as had the Moslem countries. However, the ICRC “refused to do exactly what they did do in exactly the same circumstances for Turkey, Egypt and Iran,” he said. Cohen stressed that the ICRC set a “precedent” for the three Moslem countries which should now be followed for Israel.

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