Bush's bonehead footshooting stunt; & a symbolic but important humanitarian leap forward
The Red Whatchamacallit, or in Red Cross parlance:
The third protocol emblem, also known as the Red Crystal.
Graphic shows various Red Cross emblems.
modification of AP Graphic)
Of all the bonehead stunts the Bush administration ever pulled, capturing and detaining human beings in the Afghanistan and Iraq war and the War on Terror (whatever the fuck that is) and refusing to permit the International Red Cross to serve as neutral inspectors of the conditions in which we detained them pretty much tops the list.
Now, five years after leaping into the pit to wrestle this Global Tar Baby, the absence of IRC inspections of our detainees has been a guarantee that we have utterly no credible evidence of how we have been treating these human beings. When anyone in the world accuses the USA of torturing, mistreating, abusing them or denying them the most fundamental human rights, the USA can only reply that the world will have to take our word for it that we're treating them humanely. In lieu of regular IRC inspections of our detention facilities like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, the USA offers the world The Honor System. Just take our word for it. Trust Us.
In all American history, we never faced a more demonizeable enemy than the Third Reich -- the Nazis. Here's an odd little thing about our war with the Nazis. When the Nazis captured American and British and Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen, they permitted the International Red Cross to inspect Allied prisoners, observe the camp (Stalag) conditions where they were held, and listen to and try to address treatment complaints by our prisoners.
And the German military personnel we captured and detained and held in camps in the UK, Canada and the United States -- we permitted the same IRC inspectors to visit them.
As a result, American and Allied POWs don't recall having a nice holiday in the Stalags. But they remember being safeguarded and fed, their wounds and medical needs attended to, and not being abused, terrorized, tortured, degraded or humiliated. They were treated with a fundamental respect.
And our side did the same with German POWs. All watched over by the International Red Cross and its inspectors from neutral nations (Switzerland and Sweden).
More lessons from World War II show this current bonehead, foot-shooting refusal to allow the International Red Cross to inspect our detainees in even greater relief and contrast.
First, the Japanese treated Allied POWs horrifically, scoffed at the notion of IRC inspection -- and Japan is remembered for its POW atrocities with great and enduring bitterness and disgust, a stain and shame that their allies the Germans don't have to share. "King Rat," book or movie, by a Brit who survived Singapore's Changi POW Camp, James Clavell, is a very good and ghastly snapshot, as is "The Bridge on the River Kwai," book or movie.
But the Third Reich did not extend the inspection and treaty umbrella of the International Red Cross to their millions of civilian detainees/prisoners throughout occupied Europe. That earned Germany a stain and shame they are still struggling with and suffering politically and diplomatically from sixty years later.
Hitler is long dead and gone, but the Germans who became leaders after him must endure and cope with the Nazi mess.
How a government treats its prisoners and detainees now is an investment in history. Any government which claims it faces a crisis too dangerous and imminent to allow compromises like International Red Cross inspections has guaranteed its nation and people a harvest of shame for the rest of living memory.
Bush must leave office in January 2009. Whichever presidents follow him -- great statespersons or more Psycho Loop Jobs -- the statespersons will have to do their work shackled to a fœtid cannonball stenciled BUSH, and the Loop Jobs will have to employ propaganda morons and Professional Liars like Tony Snow to answer all world complaints with: "Fuck 'em, who cares what they say?" as America's reputation as a great historical advocate for human rights and dignity continues to spiral down the world toilet.
The IRC has won more Nobel Peace Prizes than I own cats. I could write an essay this size about the IRC's historical shortcomings, goofs and blunders.
But it's still in business, and IRC inspections of detainees, and its stewardship of the Geneva Convention ideals, are still the Hot Button at the Center of the world Cyclone, because the IRC's fundamentally important work is conducted so well that a world which still generates war, genocide, famine, plague and strife but has no IRC would be ghastly beyond imagining.
I don't like it when nosey people insist on going down in my basement to see how I treat my detainees, but when I grudgingly allow them access to my amateur home dungeon, they tell the world that I'm treating my detainees okay, and then they go inspect the other amateur dungeons in my neighborhood.
Even the Psycho Loop Job Bush administration should figure out this simple historical lesson and open Guantanamo and every detainee facility to the International Red Cross. Immediately. Why do they wait, stall and resist? Because it felt so good to shoot America's reputation in the foot that they want to do it more?
If anyone has a passionate rebuttal of why America should continue to tell the IRC and the Geneva Convention to go fuck itself, please Leave A Comment. No anonymous Drivebys. Make your case but sign your fucking name or identify yourself in some authentic way.
And now, some rather important news about the International Red Cross in a world still filled with war, genocide, famine, strife, plague, flood, tsunami, torture and human rights abuses. A new Symbol for an affiliate of the Red Cross may start appearing on ambulances in the Middle East soon. Symbols are important. I don't know why, but apparently they are.
Wednesday 21 June 2006
Red Cross admits
Israel to organization
by Alexander G. Higgins
GENEVA, Switzerland -- The Red Cross admitted Israel to the worldwide humanitarian organization early Thursday, ending decades of exclusion linked to the Jewish state's refusal to accept the traditional cross symbol.
The approval came in the early hours Thursday following a two-day International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
With a round of applause the Red Cross federation admitted Israel's Magen David Adom society simultaneously with the Palestine Red Crescent. An optional new emblem was adopted so that Israel could retain its red star of David instead of having to adopt the red cross or crescent used by the 184 other societies in the global movement.
"This has been going on for 58 long years. It's time. It's overdue," said Bonnie McElveen Hunter, chairman of the American Red Cross, which had been campaigning for years for the Israeli society's admission.
Israeli Ambassador Itzhak Levanon said the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent had earlier rejected a Muslim amendment that would have challenged Israel's occupation of Arab territory since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. The vote was 72 votes for the amendment and 191 against, he said.
Then the conference passed by a 237-54 vote a resolution setting up the legal basis for Israelis' admission and making an exception to the rule that societies have to be under a sovereign state so that the Palestinians could join as well.
Magen David Adom has sought membership in the Red Cross movement since the 1930s -- even before Israel became a state -- but has been barred from entry because it objects to using the traditional symbols of the movement to identify its medical and humanitarian workers.
The decision early Thursday completed a complicated process that included the creation of the optional, third emblem -- a blank, red-bordered square standing on one corner -- that could stand alone or frame the Israeli society's red star.
The emblem -- dubbed the "red crystal" -- was approved over Muslim objections in a hard-fought diplomatic conference last December. But that was only the first step, and the conference was called to complete the job.
Conference organizers said their aim was to make the movement universal.
The simple red cross on a white background -- the reversal of colors of the Swiss flag -- was adopted as the emblem of the movement when it was founded in 1863 by Swiss humanitarians trying to care for battlefield casualties who otherwise were left to suffer.
But the symbol unintentionally reminded Muslims of the Christian Crusaders, and they insisted on their own red crescent in the 19th century.
When Israel's society bid for membership was turned down in 1949, it objected to using either the cross or the crescent, and the Red Cross movement refused to admit yet another emblem.
The society and its friends have been campaigning for years to find a way out of the stalemate, and the new emblem was designed primarily to meet Israel's objections. Magen David Adom can combine it with the red star to create a new logo.
Israel's military will be able to use the crystal by itself on a white flag to protect medics and other humanitarian workers helping war casualties. But any society could combine the emblem with the cross or crescent -- or both -- for temporary use.
- 30 -
International Committee of the Red Cross
Press Release 06/65
Thursday 22 June 2006
paves the way for red crystal
The 29th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent has amended the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to incorporate the additional emblem of the red crystal, which now has the same status as the red cross and red crescent. In addition the participants to the International Conference requested that the ICRC and the International Federation recognize and admit the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PCRS) into the Movement.
As a consequence of this successful outcome the ICRC has now recognized the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the Israeli National Society, Magen David Adom (MDA), and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will admit both National Societies. This outcome extends the universality of the Movement to an important area of Red Cross and Red Crescent operations and strengthens the operational cooperation of the two National Societies with each other and with their international partners in the Movement.
The Conference had been convened as a follow-up to the diplomatic conference of States in December 2005, which adopted the Third Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, creating an additional protective emblem for the Movement, known as the red crystal.
The chairman of the International Conference Mohammed Al Hadid declared that: ‘‘This is an historical moment for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. We urge all governments to respect the red crystal, in addition to the red cross and the red crescent’’.
The acceptance by States party to the Geneva Conventions of the Movement’s amended Statutes also means that National Societies can benefit from the flexibility afforded by the Third Additional Protocol in the use of the red crystal or of a combination of emblems recognized by the Conventions.
The use of the red crystal will also provide additional protection to war victims and humanitarian workers in conflict situations where the red cross or the red crescent cannot be used.
The ICRC, the International Federation and the National Societies might use the red crystal temporarily and in exceptional circumstances. However no State or National Society is obliged to make any change to the emblem it uses. The ICRC and the International Federation will not change their respective names and emblems.
The International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent brings together representatives of the national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the International Federation and the ICRC, with representatives of the States that are party to the Geneva Convention. In total 178 National Societies attended and 148 States.
For further information, or to set up interviews (ISDN lines available in Geneva), please contact:
Ian Piper, ICRC Tel: +41 22 730 2063 or + 41 79 217 3216 (mobile)
Marie-Françoise Borel, International Federation Tel: +41 22 730 4346 or + 41 79 217 3345
The International Federation, Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, and the International Committee of the Red Cross together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
# Resolution 1, 29th Conference, 22 June 2006
# Additional Protocol III relating to the adoption of an additional distinctive emblem
# List of signatories and ratifications of Additional Protocol III (in French on the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) site)
# Design of the additional emblem
# Memorandum of Understanding between the Magen David Adom and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (on the Swiss FDA website)
# Council of Delegates: bulletin 1
# International Conference bulletin 2
# International Conference bulletin 3
# Statement by ICRC President Dr Jakob Kellenberger, 20 June
More information on the 29th International Conference page
Other documents in this section:
Focus\RC Movement\International Conference\29th Conference
ICRC Activities\Humanitarian diplomacy
Copyright © 2006 International Committee of the Red Cross 22-06-2006
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Magen David Adom
This article documents a current event.
Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
The Magen David Adom (Hebrew: מגן דוד אדום ) is Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The name means "Red Shield of David" but is usualy translated as "Red Star of David".
The Magen David Adom organisation was formed in 1930 as a volunteer outfit with a single branch in Tel Aviv. After opening branches in Jerusalem and Haifa, it was extended nationwide five years later, providing medical support to the public and the Haganah. In 1950 the Knesset passed a law making MDA's status as Israel's national emergency service official.
Though MDA currently staffs approximately 1200 emergency medical technicians, paramedics and doctors, it still relies heavily on over 10,000 volunteers who serve in both operational and administrative capacities. MDA operates 95 stations with a fleet of over 700 ambulances, mobile intensive care units and armored ambulances nationwide. Unique among civilian emergency medical services, MDA can become an auxiliary arm of the Israeli Defense Forces during times of war.
Involvement with the Red Cross
Since its creation, Magen David Adom has been denied membership in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) since it has refused to replace its red Star of David emblem with a pre-approved symbol.
The official reason for the denial of membership is concerns about symbol proliferation; at the same 1929 conference which granted use of the Red Crescent and Red Lion and Sun, a limitation was placed on acceptance of any further emblems. The "Red Star of David" symbol was not submitted to the ICRC until 1931.
Similar concerns of India, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics regarding the use of non-Hindu and seemingly religious symbols were also dismissed by the ICRC, but their national bodies chose to adopt the Red Cross as their official emblems in order to gain entry. The Red Cross -- the inverse of the Swiss flag, the country of origin of the founder of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement -- is not intended as a religious symbol, but is often perceived as such.
Critics of the ICRC assert discrimination since Turkey, Iran and Egypt were granted membership in 1929 while using the Islamic Red Crescent as their emblem, citing the same concerns about the cross.
In her March, 2000 letter to the International Herald Tribune, doctor Bernadine Healy, then president of the American Red Cross, wrote:
"The international committee's feared proliferation
of symbols is a pitiful fig leaf, used for decades as
the reason for excluding the Magen David Adom
-- the Shield (or Star) of David."
of symbols is a pitiful fig leaf, used for decades as
the reason for excluding the Magen David Adom
-- the Shield (or Star) of David."
In protest, the American Red Cross withheld millions in administrative funding to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) since May 2000.
Despite the continued lack of official recognition, the IFRC has increased assistance to MDA by helping with organizational development, and identifying opportunities to incorporate MDA staff and volunteers in trainings and deployments during international disasters.
Since the mid-1990's, there has also been extensive and growing co-operation between MDA and the ICRC including, among other things, a USD$2.2 million expenditure on strengthening ties between the two organisations, the signing in 2000 of a two year co-operation statement, the permanent placement of an ICRC co-operation officer in MDA headquarters, and extensive support of the MDA's blood bank activities. In addition, there are bilateral cooperation agreements between MDA and a number of national Red Cross societies.
In 2005, the ICRC added the third Protocol emblem, famously dubbed the "Red Crystal," hailed as a truly universal emblem free of religious, ethnic, or political connotation. The new symbol is a red square frame tilted at a 45 degree angle. MDA has adopted this symbol in addition to their pre-existing emblem. The third Protocol Emblem went into effect after final approval by the Geneva Conventions on December 7, 2005, establishing a solid foundation in international law for its use and recognition. Relief societies already using the red cross or crescent need not adopt the new emblem.
In the mean while, the MDA is recognised by the ICRC, and the Red Crystal symbol has been adopted in the ICRC statutes on the same level as the Red Cross and Red Crescent symbols. 
On June 22, 2006, the ICRC officially admitted Magen David Adom as a full member of the organization, together with the Palestine Red Crescent society. 
1. ^ ICRC website - Press Release 06/65, 22-06-2006
2. ^ CNN.com news release, 22-06-2006
* MDA Israel (in English)
* MDA Israel (in Hebrew)
* Hatzolah Israel Affiliate of Magen David Adom that provides first response to medical emergencies.
* MDA, USA - A Support Site in English
* The Archetypal Mandala of India of the Star of David
* ICRC page discussing relationship with the MDA
* MDA page discussing relationship with the ICRC
* American Red Cross page discussing relationship with MDA
* IRC Discrimination, Jewish Virtual Library
* Canadian Court Denies Charity Status of Israel's Red Star of David
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magen_David_Adom"
* This page was last modified 14:12, 22 June 2006.
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