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December 03, 1984 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-12-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NEWS

The MDA and
the Red Cross

BY ERIKA OYSERMAN

Special to The Jewish News

=0

Jeruslaem — Despite its adher-
ence to the regulations of the In-
ternational Red Cross (IRC), the
Magen David Adom's first at-
tempt to achieve full membership
in the International League of
Red Cross Societies, at the signing
of the fourth Geneva Convention
in 1949, was rejected by a one-vote
majority and, to this day, the
MDA is the only first aid society
not recognized by the IRC.
The IRC claims that the MDA
in Israel cannot achieve recogni-
tion because it is unwilling to ac-
cept one of the ten terms of admis-
sion (the other nine are fully met
by the MDA). The term in ques-
tion is that of the MDA emblem,
•the Red Shield of David, which is
not officially recognized by the
Red Cross. However, the Red
CresCent of the Muslim countries
is recognized and so was the Red
Lion and Sun of Iran until Sep-
tember 1980, when Ayatollah
Khomeini came to power and re-
placed it with the Red Crescent.
Despite the obvious discrimina-
tion, the MDA responds to the
IRC's needs throughout the world,
and has repeatedly dispatched re-
lief shipments — medication, clo-
thing, tents, blankets — to disas-
ter affected areas. Over the past
three years, countries thus as-
sisted by the MDA include Italy,
Bolivia, Haiti, Ecuador and Thai-
land. The latter received not only
relief shipments, but a team of
doctors and medics as well, who
were dispatched in September
1980 to help Cambodian refugees
in Thailand for about two months.
The irony of all this is the fact
that. Jean Henry Dunant, the
founder of the IRC, was already
an enthusiastic Zionist 30 years
before Theodor Herzl founded the
Zionist movement. In 1866 Dun-
ant wrote a memorandum which
he sent to the French Emperor
Napoleon III, in which he outlined
his idea for the founding of a
worldwide' Society for the Renais-
sance of the Holy Land, through
development of the country's ag-
riculture, industry and trade:
"The rebirth of the Jewish nation
as a territorial entity," he wrote,
"will enable it to give full play to
its talents."
While the IRC and its ambu-
lances began operating through-
out the world in the 1860s, in Is-
rael it was only in May 1930, as a
result of the Arab riots of 1929,
that a group of volunteers got to-
gether to found a public society to
provide first aid and relief to those
in need. The beginnings were
modest. A small truck was con-
verted into an ambulance by sev-
eral dozen dedicated volunteers,
and the Red Shield of David was
painted on it.
But the MDA grew as the needs
of the expanding population grew,
and by World War II its services
were granted a certain legitimacy
by the British Mandatory
authorities. It became the medical
service of the Haganah fighters
during the 1930s and 1940s. With
the establishment of the State of
Israel, some of the society's mem-
bers and volunteers were among
those who set up the medical corps
of the Iran Defense Forces.
In 1950 the Knesset passed the

Continued on Page 33

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