Finally, a more neutral symbol for the Red Cross: a red diamond, with the local symbol within the diamond’s borders:

but the organization\'s still the red CROSS, right?

Magen David Adom’s longstanding effort to join the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movements has proceeded in fits and starts, so it should have come as no surprise that the latest attempt to clear the major barrier to entry didn’t go smoothly.

In the end, though, it was a success: Early Thursday morning, Geneva Convention signatory countries adopted a neutral red diamond as an official protective symbol, to go along with the red cross and red crescent.

[…] The MDA will continue to use the red Star of David when operating in Israel. When working abroad, MDA personnel will display the star inside the red diamond.

I’ve heard that in Ireland, they will use green marshmallow clovers.

Jewish groups welcomed adoption of the red diamond and hoped that the development would lead to the MDA’s full membership in the international organization.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Annan was “delighted” by the decision and “hopes in particular that it will open the way for societies that are not yet formally part of the movement, such as the Israeli Magen David Adom, to be admitted as full members.”

Here’s hoping. Also, here’s hoping that Lucky Charms begins using kosher gelatin in its marshmallows. Cause man, did I want that cereal when I was a kid.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see, and


  • If I’m understanding this correctly, everyone else gets to use the symbol of their religion, but Jews have to use a neutral symbol? That’s still highly discriminatory – unless the point is that the local symbol can be used inside the diamond, for example, a Dharma wheel for Bhutan or Thailand, “Om” for India, whatever.

  • I think the idea is that it’ll be a universal symbol that anyone can use anywhere, in case that is necessary. But in practice, the main intended application seems to be for use in the occupied territories, since Arab states and Palestinians are somehow offended by the star of David. In one article, it was reported that Arab states (in voting against the diamond) complained that it was overly accomodating to Israel. What it’s really accomodating, of course, is the Arab refusal to recognize Israel (and Jews and Judaism?!) as having a right to exist.

    From BBC: “The problem is, the star of David is primarily Israel’s national symbol, rather than an emblem of humanitarian relief.” Um, the star of David is the symbol of Judaism, just like a cross is a symbol of Christianity and a crescent is the symbol of Islam. It’s on the Israeli flag, just like crosses and cresents are on tons of Christian and Muslim countries’ flags. Using the Magen David, without any ugly diamond, makes perfect sense. But 27 countries couldn’t even handle Israel using a diamond.

    This issue isn’t completely settled — the diamond still has to be approved at another conference.

  • When are we going to stop caring what other people think?!?! When are Jews going to stop trying to appease the world that hates us and do things that make us stronger as a nation. This is just one more on a long list of oppression comeing from the two most oppresive forces in history…. the Christians and Islam, both responcible for hundreds of years of cruilty, death, oppression eg. the crudades, spanish inquisision etc. etc.

  • I have to agree with the above. Israel and the MDA should have stuck to an ethical position in this matter: we should not be relegated to second tier or non-entity status because other groups have a problem with Jews or a Jewish state. By any standard the behavior of these international organizations has been shameful on this matter and anything less than full recognition of the MDA and its symbol, the Star of David, should have been rejected.

    It still should be.

    Of course, the irony is that this matter hasn’t been passed in full yet. There’s still another vote coming and the groups whose symbols happen to represent a hell of a lot more evil historically than those represented by the Star of David could ever dream of inflicting, could still nix this atrocious compromise. Of course, that would be a reflection on them, not on the MDA or Israel and that’s why it’s better not to compromise.

  • How about this? If they don’t want the Star of David, then perhaps they don’t want any humanitarian assistance, either.

    Seems pretty basic to me.

  • The Red Cross’ refusal of the Jewish star as a symbol for Magen David Adom is perfectly logical in an international setting. MADA is an international society as it has already had operations in the Balkans and Ethiopia, according to the IRC website. Judaism is a small percentage of the population and really only existent in the Western world, which means that it might not be recognized in you average random town in Asia. The IRC, however, has used this logic as a way to irrationally prevent MADA from becoming a full member. India, in 1977, tried to establish its own Hindu symbol (unfortunately they wanted the Red Swastika) but was rejected by the Red Cross (since Hinduism is such a small religion). Second, in 1929 the Red Cross allowed Iran to create a Red Lion and Sun Society (everyone knows about that one right?). Although Iran has subsequently turned into a theocracy and uses the Red Cresent, their original symbol, the Red Lion and Sun, they still retain the right to use it.

Leave a Comment