Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Israel's Humanitarian Relief Organisation Admitted to the Red Cross

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26 June 2006

 

The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) welcomed the admission of Israel's Magen David Adom (MDA) humanitarian relief organisation into the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein said that such recognition was long overdue.

The prerequisite for Israel's admission to the Federation took place last December when a Diplomatic Conference adopted the Red Crystal as the third humanitarian emblem to qualify for protection under international law. While Muslim nations have long used the Red Crescent as an alternative to the Red Cross, Israel objected to the religious overtones inherent to both those symbols and adopted a Red Star of David, or 'Magen David Adom,' in Hebrew. Since Israel's inception in 1948, a coalition of Arab states has prevented the MDA from achieving recognition in international law.

The Red Crystal is a religiously neutral emblem that will provide protection to everyone, regardless of creed or belief system. And once the question of a symbol was resolved, the 181 members of the world humanitarian body overwhelmingly voted to provide full membership status to Israel.

“We applaud the reverse of this historic inequity,” said Rubenstein. “Israel's exclusion from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was a blight on the integrity of the international humanitarian movement. It is a heartening sign of progress to see that taint removed”.

Rubenstein also expressed appreciation to the Australian Red Cross for its steadfast support of Israel's admission to the Federation. “The aid and assistance of our own Red Cross Society,” he concluded, “was important in rectifying this injustice.”
 

For further comment, please contact

Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM
crubenstein@aijac.org.au
03 9681 6660

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