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Missing a point or two

Well, after a long struggle, the Israeli aid organization Magen David Adom (Red Star Of David) has finally won acceptance in its quest for affiliation with the International Red Cross, but only after making a major concession. Its symbol will not be the Red Star of David they have used since their inception, but a "red crystal" -- a red diamond shape, or a square standing on corner.

This is nothing less than a disgrace to the International Red Cross.

When the Red Cross was founded, it chose its name and symbol by reversing the Swiss flag, a white cross with equal arms on a field of red. This was widely accepted around the world, until it started to work in the Muslim world. There, it seemed, that a lot of Muslims saw the Cross (even though it was clearly NOT a crucifix, which traditionally has the vertical bar considerably longer than the horizontal one) as an unwelcome reminder of the hated Crusaders. So, as a concession to their tender egos, the Red Cross started allowing the use of a red crescent.

Now here is a key point: the Red Cross was derived from the Swiss flag, which was derived from the Christian crucifix. So it is two steps removed from the religious symbol. The Red Crescent was taken directly from the Muslim symbol, so it is only one step removed from the religious connotation. Many Muslim nations bear a crescent on their flag in recognition of Islam.

The Star of David is a universal symbol of Judaism. It is also a key portion of the flag of the nation of Israel, and is borne by all official buildings, vehicles, and other places where a national symbol would be appropriate. Its use is pretty much a perfect parallel for the Islamic use of the crescent.

Yet it is the Muslims in the Red Cross who blocked the admission of the Magen David Adom for so long. They chose to use the chosen symbol as their rallying cry, but that was just the most convenient excuse: it was the idea that an Israeli organization would gain any sort of official recognition and sanction that drove them up the wall. And to do so under a symbol that they most often associate with Zionist flags, tanks, and warplanes was to add insult to the injury -- and we all know how incredibly fragile the Islamic ego is to the tiniest perceived slight.

But somehow, principle and reason and decency finally prevailed. The cynic in me suspects that the actions of the American Red Cross -- which withheld millions in funding to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in protest -- finally hurt enough. They played "bad cop" while Magen David Adom played "good cop," participating and supporting Red Cross missions around the world with nary a word of complaint.

(Well, with maybe a few choice words of complaint. Based on my own experience with Jews, "suffering in silence" is not something they do very well. In fact, they've made "kvetching" an art form. But I digress.)

I'm glad for the Magen David Adom, who have done some truly amazing things over the course of their history. But I hope they don't give up the fight to use their original symbol -- the red Star Of David -- alongside the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and Red Lion With Sun that Iran used for over 50 years, and still reserves the right to use.


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Comments (6)

There's the "Red Ball"...hm... (Below threshold)

There's the "Red Ball"...hmmm...might offend the Japanese since it would be similar to their WWII era flag design. Maybe the "Red Pyramid"...hmmm...might offend Egyptians who rely on tourism in regards to the Pyramids.

Howzabout a "Red Parallelogram"? A "Red Trapezoid"? A "Red Octagon"? Oh wait, that's a stop sign. :-)


There are many kinds of cro... (Below threshold)

There are many kinds of crosses, but a crucifix is not a cross. It is a cross with the body of Christ on it.

Many Muslims do equate any cross with Christianity, and not without reason, given its meaning within Christianity as well as its use during the Crusades, and later, as an identifier of christian armed forces (viz. Templars or the Knights of Malta). The cross is a symbol of Christianity.

It's not unlike the Israeli use of the Star of David as a national identifier on its flag and military equipment. It is also, of course, the symbol of Judaism.

The difficulty is that a symbol is being used by separate groups to convey different meanings. This makes the symbol carry the weight of two different and separable meanings, like it or not.

No. I would, howev... (Below threshold)
No. I would, however waive all income and payroll taxes of current servicemen (though with no declared war or mission, that's tricky) and institute a marginally lower tax rate for all honourably [sic] discharged veterans in perpetuity. :: by bryanD on January 14, 2007 7:11 PM ::
Better grab the tail of that cat before it gets completely out of the bag.

Your clueless about some military affairs!

All servicemen and women deployed to a war zone are already exempt from all federal taxes. At present that includes Afgan/Iraq and the few that are in Somalia now. For US Navy purposes the demarcation line is about 600 miles southeast of the Straits of Hormuz. At that line Fed taxes stop and remain so for every month, or a portion of a month, you are within that boundary.

Without searching and only from memory of when I started gaining this benefit the practice goes back to at least 1988.

ome States also exempt mil members from State taxes , MI being one, and Minn has a bill to do the same on the table.

Oops wrong thread. Guess th... (Below threshold)

Oops wrong thread. Guess that's one downfall of Firefox. You can have too many tabs open.

If I'm not mistaken, the St... (Below threshold)

If I'm not mistaken, the Star of David is in modern times a symbol of ethnic Jewish identity rather than a religious symbol.

While it has been used on mezuzahs and synagogues for centuries, it doesn't really have a direct relation to Scriptures. Although later scholars have postulated some interpretations of religious symbolism, the symbol wasn't used at all in pre-Christian times and isn't mentioned in writings of the times. It appears to have first gained popularity in the 12th or 13th Century, and became a symbol of the movement to create Israel in the 1920s.

The point is that it isn't the "infidel" religious significance which infuriates the Muslims, but that it is the symbol of the secular Jewish state. They are angry that Israel exists at all, not that the Star of David offends Islam in some way.

This is Devorah Goldburg of... (Below threshold)

This is Devorah Goldburg of the American Red Cross. I just want to clarify a couple of points for this discussion.

The new Red Crystal emblem is equal in status to the existing Red Cross and Red Crescent and provides an additional protective emblem for use in conflicts where the existing Red Cross or Red Crescent may be perceived as having cultural, religious or political connotations. It is false to say that Magen David Adom (MDA) cannot continue to use the Star of David -- MDA will continue to use its existing emblem within Israel, and may use the Star of David internationally as well by placing it within the Red Crystal. For more information on this topic, please visit http://www.redcross.org/mda/.






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