NEW YORK (Mar. 4)
Saying Israel’s chances of recognition by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are worse than ever, the President of the American Red Cross (ARC) Monday suggested several methods of resolving the ongoing exclusion.
Last October, the Movement changed its title from The International Red Cross Movement. While both the red cross and the red crescent are now internationally recognized symbols, the red Shield of David of Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) medical and humanitarian movement is not.
ARC President Richard Schubert told members of the New York Jewish Community Relations Council that the Movement should establish a committee to explore alternatives to the symbols, displayed by the Movement’s medical and relief workers as they operate under often hostile conditions.
Schubert recommended either a single new symbol, a collage symbol or two standard symbols for opposing sides in a conflict.
In the meantime, MDA should attempt to establish bilateral and defacto relations with sister organizations in friendly countries, Schubert said. He also encouraged the American Jewish community to work with ARC to keep the emblem issue on the top of the international agenda.
Schubert stressed that the original symbol, the red Greek cross, was never intended to be interpreted as religious. But he acknowledged that the selection of the cross was the first mistake in a series of many causes of the MDA’s problem today.
Despite this, he said, the red cross is the most universally recognized symbol in the world and changing it for another symbol thus would be a great loss.
He also suggested the movement should never have accepted symbols besides the red cross. But he explained that the international organization is not controlled by the Red Cross societies, but “by the same governments who refuse to give recognition to the State of Israel.”
Schubert said the MDA’s chances of being admitted under its symbol of the red Shield of David are worse today than ever, because the number of member countries in the Movement has increased significantly.
“The communist and Arab world basically had its way,” Schubert said. He noted that the first time the MDA applied for admission of its symbol, in 1949, it lost by only one vote.
Asked if ARC would withdraw from the international movement in protest of the exclusion of MDA, Schubert said, “I must respectfully decline… We establish nothing by destroying it.”