Feb 6, 2007

When is compromise too much?

I kept meaning to post this article, but I kept not doing it. It frustrates me, and I'll point out the points of the article that are particularly infuriating. The topic: The Red Cross-Red Crescent's adoption of the Red Diamond to include Israel's Magen David Adom Society (MDA). MDA used to use the Magen David, of course, but the international society refused to accept it as their symbol. There were some discussions on a forum I frequent, and some points were made that I found pretty ridiculous. First, some things from the article:

"The problem is, the star of David is primarily Israel's national symbol, rather than an emblem of humanitarian relief."
Now, this is a BBC article. I'm sort of shocked at this because the Red Crescent is clearly a symbol of Islamic/Muslim society. The crescent first appeared during the Ottoman Empire because one of the officials thought using the Red Cross would alienate the Muslim soldiers. Thus, the Red Crescent was born. Now, explain to me how that is an emblem of humanitarian relief? How does that validate the symbol any more than using the star of David? We can use the red CROSS and red CRESCENT but not the red STAR. I'm frustrated and irritated.

A friend on the forum suggested that Israel should strive to use a symbol that doesn't not INCITE violence, and instead is neutral. Because, you know, seeing the star of David incites violence, yet the crescent in no way has any implications? What an argument.
"Arab states have made it clear they will never accept the red star being recognised under the Geneva Conventions."
And thus the red diamond was accepted. How is this right? Fair? Yes, it's a compromise and probably not a battle worth enveloping ourselves in, but it seems so unjust. It's hypocritical and ridiculous. Again, it's a compromise. A compromise to ease the minds of everyone else.


Gorski said...

The Red Cross was never meant to be per se a religious symbol. Interestingly enough, it was based on a political symbol--it's a color inversion of the flag of Switzerland, home of its founder.

The Red Crescent was created because the cross was too likely to be misinterpreted in heavily Muslim areas.

I can at least understand the reluctance to use the star of David in a predominantly-Muslim part of the world--despite the color change, a blue star of David is a political symbol of modern Israel, and thereby at least arguably more susceptible to misinterpretation.

And I think one point of the so-called Red Crystal, then, is to forestall the notion that an ICRC-affiliated organization must adopt an emblem of somebody's faith.

Last I checked, Magen David Adom was mostly going to operate with its old symbol surrounded by the Red Crystal, except in circumstances abroad wherein a hostile entity might not recognize it as a symbol of protection. That is, in countries which wouldn't respect the MDA symbol, they will use a neutral symbol for their protection. That seems to me at least like an operational decision by an organization, rather than an instance of religious oppression--?

Or at least, to be sure: I have no better ideas than use of a neutral symbol like the Red Crystal. The irony of trying to militarily enforce respect of a new symbol for an ICRC-affiliated organization in nations which object to it would be bitter. And ICRC itself had imposed pretty significant restrictions on new symbols after begrudgingly accepting the Red Lion-and-Sun, which was used in Iran 'til they recently switched over to the Red Crescent.

peace, kiddo,


who acknowledges this whole thing would have been easier if the ICRC's original symbol didn't coincidentally happen to look religious in its nature

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