A New Low for Red Cross

June 23, 2013

2 min read

Red Magen David Ambulance in Jerusalem (Photo: Wiki Commons)
Red Magen David Ambulance in Jerusalem (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The International Committee of the Red Cross has had a long history of making anti-Semitic decisions.  For instance, although the Red Crescent is recognised as an alternative symbol to the cross, with its religious connotations, within the organisation, the Red Magen David is not.  Until 2006, the Red Magen David was not even accepted as an official member of the organisation due to its refusal to change its symbol, nor formally recognised by the organisation as the national emergency service provider of Israel.  Even now, outside of Israel it can only display the Magen David symbol within the Red Crystal, a secular symbol adopted in 2005 for use by member service providers which were not comfortable using the religious cross or crescent symbols.  Due to an agreement with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, Judea and Samaria are considered, as far as the ICRC is concerned, to be outside of Israel.

During the Holocaust, public pleas were issued for the Red Cross to step up and demand equal treatment of all prisoners in concentration camps, implcitly including the Jews, who were in dire need of this protection.  The Red Cross, however, refused to issue a statement in that regard, preferring to focus its efforts on prisoners of war.  It claimed that the Jews were a unique case and therefore there were no accepted international conventions or laws that would allow the Red Cross to intercede on their behalf.  Even when it came to prisoners of war, when Jewish POWs were being separated from their non-Jewish counterparts, the ICRC refused to step in and call for an end to this discriminatory practice.

It may not have been surprising, then, that on May 8th, according to the Palestinian Authority, “The International Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent, in cooperation with the Zububa Rural Council west of Jenin, yesterday planted 150 fruit trees that carry the names of the veteran prisoners jailed in the occupation prisons.”  These prisoners include those who were directly responsible for terror attacks against Israel and who were tried in a legal and recognised court of law.  Participating in the ceremony was Giorgio Ferrario, regional representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

When criticised, the ICRC tried to distance itself from controversy by saying, “The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, independent and impartial organization. Over the last 150 years, we have been striving to uphold these fundamental principles which continue to guide our humanitarian work around the world. Please note that ICRC was not present during the planting of the trees ceremony reported by your website. Over the decades, the ICRC has provided support, including financially, both to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and to Magen David Adom for their humanitarian programs. It remains the prerogative of the National Society to define its own priorities and activities and to allocate funds accordingly.”

Although the ICRC itself did not formally participate in the event, Ferrario’s presence, given his role as regional representative, once again connects the Red Cross to anti-Semitism. As such, calls have gone out for Ferrario’s removal from his post.


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