Red Cross symbolism – Deal would ease Israel’s entry

The Red Cross may add a red diamond to its traditional symbols — the red cross and red crescent – partly to clear the way for Israel’s relief service to join the organization, The New York Times reports.

A two-day meeting of governments and Red Cross representatives this weekend began the process of approving the emblem, which is expected to happen before year’s end.

The American Red Cross has been pressuring the international organization to admit Israel’s Magen David Adom, or Red Shield of David, whose symbol is a red star of David, the Times says.

Even apart from the issue of Israel’s admission, the Red Cross in recent years has considered adopting a symbol not linked to a particular religion or nation.

It is envisioned that Israel’s emblem, or that of any other national society that wanted to change its symbol, would be inset in a corner of the diamond.

The American Red Cross argued that the new symbol was unnecessary because the International Committee of the Red Cross already had the authority to admit Israel’s group without it.

To express its support of Israel, the American Red Cross withheld $5 million in membership dues from the Swiss-run international committee last month and $350,000 more from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The American Red Cross has said it will work directly with other countries’ aid groups if necessary, raising the possibility of a split in the Red Cross movement.

Some Red Cross officials resent American pressure.

“We’re prepared for a little poverty rather than just doing what they want,” one official told the Times.

The emblem controversy is based partly on concerns that, if Palestine becomes a state, its relief group — which uses the red crescent — will quickly become an official Red Cross member while discussions over the new emblem keep Israel on the sidelines.


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