An accord was finally reached last week whereby Israel's Magen David Adom can join the International Red Cross after more than a half-century of unjustified exclusion. The reaction to this agreement by the State of Israel and most Jewish organizations in the Diaspora has been relief mixed with euphoria.
But pardon us if we aren't joining in the celebration. Though the deal represents a breakthrough, it is accompanied by conditions that leave us feeling as if once again the State of Israel and the Jewish people are being treated by the international community as second-class citizens.
What are those conditions? Rather than merely accepting the red Star of David as an acceptable symbol, the MDA will be forced to use its star symbol only within a diamond symbol – called a crystal – when it is operating overseas on rescue missions. This is a policy that will only be enforced when it comes to Israel. When operating abroad, Red Cross and Red Crescent (from Muslim countries) will not be required to put their symbols inside the diamond. Despite the hard diplomatic work of Israel's friends, the results of this agreement only require the symbol of the Jewish people to be camouflaged in this manner.
As part of the deal, the MDA will also recognize the Palestinian Red Crescent and grant its ambulances greater privileges. We can only hope that this will mean that the Palestinian group will no longer use its vehicles to give both armaments and terrorists impunity from Israeli searches, as has happened in the past.
Among others, the American Red Cross deserves credit for its efforts, which include years of withholding its dues to the International Red Cross in protest against the discrimination against Israel. Their good will for Israel is unquestioned, and to be admired.
But we have to wonder about the happiness over this deal when the resolution to decades of prejudice against Israel seems to be still more discrimination. Why, we must ask, aren't the cross and the crescent symbols also forced inside the diamond?
This is not merely a matter of Jewish pride, though that ought not to be lightly dismissed. Rather, the continuing discrimination against the Star of David is manifestation of the prejudice against Israel and Jews, which is growing – not diminishing. Resistance to Israel's inclusion in the international group and the insistence on the discriminatory treatment of the star stem from the same Arab world that is the source of much of the Jew-hatred exported around the globe.
Like the United Nations' repeal of the despicable "Zionism is racism" resolution, there is a sense that by admitting MDA, the Red Cross is redressing a longstanding wrong. But unlike that repeal, the humiliating conditions under which this new "compromise" has been reached leave us feeling as if hate wins out.