Friday, April 29, 2005

Another anti-Israel boycott (Normblog)

Guest-Posted on the Website of Norman Geras (Normblog)

Many people are not aware that the Geneva-based International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation has always refused to admit the Israeli branch, the Magen David Adom (i.e., Red Star of David) to full membership. Various pretexts, excuses, and complications have been invoked over the years, but essentially this is a matter of politically motivated exclusion - which, as far as I know, is unique to Israel. (Purely coincidence, no doubt.) The American Red Cross, to its credit, has taken the lead in pressing for an end to this indefensible situation. Dr Bernadine Healy, the former head of the American Red Cross, provided important moral leadership on this issue, despite considerable criticism and opposition.

It seems possible (though it's far from certain) that the international Federation may, at long last, do the right thing. If so, it's about time.

Opposition by Red Crescent branches from Islamic countries, including but not restricted to the Arab world, has always been the decisive factor preventing the inclusion of Israel. It is now more than a half-century since the creation of Israel, and it is time for these countries to come to terms with Israel's existence - not to endorse Israel's policies, or even necessarily to make peace with Israel (if that seems too radical), but just to accept its existence. If they can't bring themselves to do this, then at least the international Red Cross/Red Crescent organization should do so.

--Jeff Weintraub