Magen David Adom

Recognition of Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) (2002)

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is the umbrella group for 176 national emergency relief organizations around the world. The movement has long refused to accord full membership to Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA). Israel’s quest for membership, with the red Star of David as its emblem, was rejected in 1949 by secret ballot at the Geneva Convention which determined that all new aid societies must adopt the Red Cross emblem. Since then, some twenty-five Red Crescent societies have been admitted into the organization. Only Israel has been excluded for fifty-two years, despite the fact that Israel fulfills nine of the ten requirements for full admission as a member of the International Red Cross family and the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Driven by Arab state hatred, the Israeli affiliate, relegated to non-voting observer status, is the only disaster relief organization of a sovereign nation to be discriminated against in this way.

The American Red Cross (ARC), which has long recognized MDA, is currently on the verge of signing an unprecedented bilateral agreement of cooperation with Israel’s MDA, which is meant to send a symbolic message to the International Federation that the ARC firmly supports the Israeli disaster relief agency’s inclusion as soon as possible.

In October 2000 the US Senate unanimously passed Resolution 343 in support of full recognition of Israel’s Magen David Adom, and the House of Representatives, passed a similar unanimous resolution in May. In addition, lawmakers representing twenty-five countries in Europe, Africa, and Australia have agreed to lobby their home Red Cross agencies to support Israel.

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism urges its affiliates to:

  1. Pressure the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, through a campaign of public relations and letter writing to its President to finally give Israel its deserved place, and to adhere to the movement’s principles of keeping politics out of humanitarian issues.
  2. Contact their US Senators to ask them, if they have not already done so, to join the fifty-three Senators who signed letters last year to Secretary of State Colin Powell and Red Cross officials urging full acceptance of MDA.
  3. Thank the American Red Cross for the excellent relationship they have developed with MDA, and for their two-year-old policy of withholding five million dollars, its portion of annual international dues, until Israel is accepted as a full member; and to urge them to continue this policy and not succumb to political pressure.