Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Seeing Red

Israel to provide PA with ambulances

For 75 years, Magen David Adom has been trying to join the International Committee of the Red Cross, on the same terms as all the Red Crescent societies of the various Arab countries, and Iran's Red Sun and Lion. And for 75 years the ICRC has arbitrarily refused, claiming that for some reason three symbols are OK, but four would be too many. Unless the MDA started using a cross, a crescent, or a sun-and-lion, it would be denied protection – according to the Geneva Conventions, if on a battlefield Israel shoots at a vehicle bearing the Red Crescent it's a war crime, but if the Arabs shoot at a vehicle bearing the Red Magen David that's perfectly legal.

Recently a "compromise" was worked out. The Arabs still get to use the Red Crescent, the MDA still doesn't get to use its symbol, but a fourth symbol was added to the list, the "Red Crystal". Inside Israel MDA still uses its own symbol, just as it has for the past 75 years; big deal. Outside Israel, for "indicative purposes", i.e. just to show who they are, they may not use the MDA on its own, but must put it inside a Red Crystal. Of course, Red Crescent societies don't have to do that. But, get this: for "protective purposes", i.e. the real point of the Red Cross symbol, the fact that it gives legal protection against being shot at or bombed, MDA must use the unadorned Red Crystal. Putting a Magen David inside the crystal invalidates it, and makes the ambulance, hospital, etc., fair game for anyone to shoot at.

This much was widely reported a few weeks ago. Now here's part of the deal that isn't so widely known: In return for this huge favour that the ICRC has deigned to bestow, the MDA will be giving eight ambulances to the PA. Now the MDA raises funds in Jewish communities all over the world. Over the past few years, as the situation has strained its resources, it has had a special drive to get Jewish communities to buy ambulances for the MDA. Now it seems that it has at least 8 ambulances that are surplus to requirements, and are being donated to the enemy, in return for this grudging half-admission into the "big kids' club". Well, I know where my money won't be going any time soon.

1 Comments:

Blogger Joseph said...

If this were an SF story, the 8 ambulances would be controlled by an ultrawave relay.

Tue Jul 04, 11:47:00 PM 2006  

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