US Senate demands ICRC accept Israel
- Jerusalem Post
Thursday August 2, 2001
53 US senators urge Red Cross to accept MDA
By Melissa Radler
NEW YORK (August 2) - In a bipartisan effort led by US Senators Peter
Fitzgerald (R-Illinois) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York,) a group of
53 senators sent letters yesterday to Secretary of State Colin Powell and
leaders of the Red Cross urging the world's largest humanitarian
organization to grant full and immediate membership to Magen David Adom.
At a news conference in Washington that brought together politicians, Jewish
leaders, and American Red Cross officials, Fitzgerald and Clinton called on
Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent, and Astrid Heiberg, president of the International Federation of
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, to support MDA's 51-year quest for
"These letters send a clear signal to the international Red Cross leadership
and the world that MDA's exclusion from the Red Cross movement is
unacceptable," said Fitzgerald In October, he sponsored a Senate resolution
that called on the Red Cross to immediately admit MDA and its emblem.
MDA was denied membership in the Red Cross in 1949, purportedly because its
red six-pointed star emblem was unacceptable under the organization's
guidelines, which accepted only the cross. Since 1949, 25 Red Crescent
societies have been admitted, and MDA remains the only national emergency
relief society to be excluded from the movement.
Recalling the work of MDA in international emergency relief, Clinton said
that MDA "truly embodies the principles upon which the Red Cross movement
was founded - humanity, impartiality, neutrality, unity, and universality."
The letters to Kellenberger and Heiberg state that "MDA should not be
required to give up or diminish its use of its emblem as a condition for
immediate and full membership in the movement. The Red Shield of David
should be accorded the same recognition under international law as the Red
Cross and Red Crescent," while the letter to Powell urges him to make MDA a
"high priority of the United States in its dealings with the ICRC, the
federation, and with countries that have opposed MDA's full admission into
The American Red Cross, which in the past has termed MDA's exclusion "an
injustice of the highest order," sent Gerald Jones, vice president for
international services, to the conference.
Reiterating his organization's support for MDA, Jones said that its
inclusion "is a matter of principle and reflects quintessentially American
Last week, Fitzgerald and Clinton met with Bernadine Healy, president of the
American Red Cross, to discuss MDA's status.
Fitzgerald and Clinton were praised by a broad range of Jewish groups,
including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the Anti-Defamation League, and
the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
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