Red Cross in Dispute Over Emblem

Monday, May 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The American Red Cross is rejecting a proposal to create a new diamond emblem for relief workers, calling for its international organization to instead accept an Israeli group that uses a Star of David as its emblem.

``It's time to end the hypocrisy that embarrasses and taints us all,'' Dr. Bernadine Healy, president of the American Red Cross, told 2,500 delegates attending the group's 75th annual convention over the weekend.

The convention voted unanimously Sunday to authorize its board of governors to use all appropriate ways to persuade the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to end the 51-year-old dispute over emblems that has kept Israel from full membership in the group.

The American Red Cross already is withholding $5 million in dues, while the international group has invited its 176 member societies to a November conference that could approve a new, neutral emblem.

All members of the International Committee of the Red Cross use a red cross or, in Muslim countries, a red crescent.

Israel's counterpart organization, which goes by the Hebrew name Magen David Adom, uses a red Star of David on a white flag as its symbol. The international Red Cross movement has refused to sanction the six-pointed star as a symbol for relief workers.

The Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross last month proposed to create a whole new emblem — probably a red diamond. Inside the diamond, each country would be allowed to put a smaller symbol — the cross, the Muslim red crescent, or in Israel's case the star.

``The notion of a diamond would be unacceptable to us,'' Healy said. ``Here, a diamond represents danger or caution.''

``Our society is the Red Cross. That is our emblem, and there is no interest in changing that,'' she said.

Healy said barring the Israeli symbol is discriminatory. She showed the convention a Nazi version of the Red Cross emblem recognized in the 1930s and '40s. She questioned why the image of a red cross gripped by eagle talons was recognized but not the Star of David.

``The American Red Cross is run by American people, and American people don't understand exclusionary policies,'' Healy said.


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Magen David Adom

American Red Cross

International Committee of the Red Cross

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies