IN OTHER WORDS : Crosses and crescents

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has member organisations from more than 180 countries, but Israel is not one of them. Now there is a real chance that under pressure from the American Red Cross, this policy will change in the near future. The federation includes humanitarian organisations from different countries, but not from Israel. The reason is that the corresponding Israeli society, Magen David Adom, uses the six-pointed star of David as its emblem and will not adopt the red cross or red crescent, emblems that are recognized by the Geneva Conventions. Since 2000, the American Red Cross has protested by withholding $30 million in dues from the federation. Unless something changes before the 181 societies meet in November, the American Red Cross will have withheld its dues for five years. That means it could have its voting rights suspended. The federation is considering the addition of a protective emblem devoid of religious connotations, known as the red crysta. But there are procedural hurdles, starting with the need to amend the Geneva Conventions. It is politics that has impeded Israel’s entry. That situation puts the Red Cross movement in an unfortunate position. — The New York Times