Last week the signatories of the Geneva Conventions decided to adopt a new international symbol — the Red Crystal — alongside the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. Israel’s Magen David Adom is now to join the the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Inside Israel, the red Star of David is the symbol of the MDA; outside Israel, the MDA will use either an empty crystal or one with a Star of David inside it. Sunday’s Jerusalem Post ran a thoughtful editorial on the events involved here. Here are the concluding paragraphs of the Post’s editorial:
Evidently even a humanitarian movement, and one which perhaps more than any international body purportedly prides itself on neutrality and impartiality, can baldly discriminate against the Jewish state for decades, and then adopt a “solution” that continues to discriminate against the symbol of the Jewish people.
There is, furthermore, a wider problem with the new arrangement: Rather than rejecting and combatting hatred, it accommodates violence and intolerance. It is no coincidence that, after over half a century of tolerating the rejection of the Star of David, the Red Cross has itself in recent years found it increasingly difficult to operate, and began to seek cover.
Though the crystal is being portrayed as the solution to a general problem, namely places where one symbol or another is not tolerated, in practice the intolerance flows almost entirely in one direction: from the Muslim world against the Star of David and, recently, against the Red Cross too. It is almost impossible to conceive of a situation in which a Christian country, by contrast, would take violent offense to a rescue mission operating under a Red Crescent.
By bowing for so long to the utter rejection of the symbol of the Jewish people, and then devising for it a second-class status, the international community legitimized a hatred that is the antithesis of the Red Cross mission and the cause of many of the casualties it treats.
Why should a Red Cross ambulance, whose only mission is to save lives, not be able to operate in Muslim areas? Why does Israel have to beg Muslim countries for the right to openly help their peoples recover from national disasters? Most perplexingly, how has this blinding intolerance become so “normal” that such questions are not even asked?
Thursday’s decision on the new symbol was, in a step almost unheard on such issues, taken by a vote rather than by consensus. Over 20 Muslim countries, led by Syria, voted no. For these countries, even hiding Israel behind a crystal was plainly too much tolerance. And in the end, it was not just Israel that attempted to hide itself from a hatred in many Islamic countries so deep it extends even to those who would save their own peoples’ lives. It was the entire West as well.