The first plane carry MADA (Magen David Adom) medical personnel just landed in Burgas, Bulgaria. A second plane is expected to land within a half an hour.
Posts Tagged ‘Magen David Adom’
In recent months, I’ve been contacted repeatedly regarding news reports that Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical response and national blood service, is removing its logo from ambulances in Judea and Samaria, or ending all operations there entirely. It’s been a frustrating time because the reports haven’t been accurate, and the misrepresentations have created a backlash that’s bad for Israel – and for all Israelis. As an Israeli living in the Judean mountain region of Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, I want to set the record straight.
First, two points of clarification. People ask me about Magen David Adom’s services in Judea and Samaria because I serve as the representative in Israel for American Friends of Magen David Adom (www.afmda.org), MDA’s American fundraising affiliate.
While reports about MDA removing its logo or ceasing activities in Judea and Samaria are the catalyst for recent rumors, all this originates from reports that MDA signed an agreement in 2005 that enabled it to be accepted as a member of the International Red Cross, righting a six-decade wrong of MDA and Israel being excluded from that international body. The decision to sign the agreement largely originated from Israel’s government at the time. MDA does not make political or diplomatic decisions on behalf of the State of Israel.
Except for the borders with Egypt and Jordan, Israel has no internationally recognized borders, and MDA’s role, by law, is to provide equal services to all Israelis, regardless of on which side of the Green Line they live.
The truth is, MDA has not changed its operations in Judea and Samaria at all. It’s never ceased working in these areas or providing equal and full lifesaving services to Israelis (and Palestinians) who live here. Anyone suggesting otherwise simply does not have their facts straight or is deliberately misrepresenting them. As a result of the latter, there is an increase of the former.
The facts are unambiguous. MDA operates more than 60 ambulances based in 14 stations throughout Judea and Samaria, serving an Israeli population there of more than 250,000. On a per capita basis, the number of ambulances in Judea and Samaria is much higher than in Israeli cities with comparable populations.
The fact is that MDA responds to dozens of calls daily in Judea and Samaria, serving Arabs and Jews without discrimination.
Another fact is that MDA does not play politics when it comes to saving lives. People on the right of the political spectrum who are worried that MDA has left Judea and Samaria need to know that hasn’t happened and that MDA serves all Israelis equally. People on the left of the spectrum, who don’t believe Israel should be in Judea and Samaria, need to know that MDA serves all its residents equally, regardless of their citizenship – as it does within the Green Line between Israeli Arabs and Jews.
Misrepresenting these facts, calling for a boycott of donations to MDA, and damaging support for this critical organization do nothing other than harm Israelis. Every donor lost makes it harder for AFMDA to provide resources to save lives in Israel. There seems to be myriad ill-defined political agendas driving these news reports. Few of them have been factual. And their motives are malicious.
To some degree, these inaccurate stories have been fed by MDA’s decision to remove its logo from community ambulances throughout Israel at the same time that details of the agreement with the Red Cross have come to light. Previously, community ambulances bore the MDA emblem, even though they weren’t operated by MDA. Now, emblems on those community ambulances are being replaced with another insignia, which like the MDA logo also features the iconic Star of David. So the accusation that MDA is removing the Star of David from its ambulances – whether they’re operating in Judea and Samaria or anywhere else in the country – is false.
Sadly, the misinformation continues, and some people have deliberately misrepresented the facts, doing great damage to MDA, its reputation, and our ability to continue to help Israelis with medical emergencies – a particularly dangerous scenario given the resumption of rocket attacks from Gaza and daily threats from Iran.
Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood, sandwiched by enemies to its north and south. The mission of saving lives has to be immune from politics and political games. If people have legitimate issues with MDA or the government’s international diplomacy, they should voice them in the proper forum and not misrepresent the facts. Let people of goodwill who care about Israel continue to support MDA – not because it’s my job to say this, but because MDA, more than any other Israeli organization, truly saves lives and benefits all Israelis.
Jonathan Feldstein is an Israel-based representative of American Friends of Magen David Adom, the American fundraising affiliate for Israel’s emergency medical response organization. He lives in Efrat in Judea.
At least one person has been reported killed and 6 injured in the collapse of a light array above stage being assembled at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem for Rememberance Day ceremonies.
Initial reports indicate that the deceased is a 20 year-old female soldier and that at least two of the injured are in moderate condition.
A lighting fixture collapsed on a crew assembling the main stage for the annual day memorializing soldiers who have fallen in defense of the State of Israel.
Magen David Adom paramedics and Jerusalem police are on the scene.
Nine children, and one adult were killed, and at least 14 injured Thursday when a bus and a truck collided in north Jerusalem. Many of the injured are said to be in critical and serious condition.
Police, Fire, and EMT are at the scene. Red Crescent teams are assisting in the rescue. Magen David Adom declared the incident a mass causality event. The injured were rushed to Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem.
Back in September 2011, in an editorial titled “Magen David Adom: No Time to Blink,” we expressed our dismay over reports in several Israeli newspapers that Israel’s national ambulance service – its version of the American Red Cross – was in the process of removing the display of the Magen David symbol on its ambulances operating over the Green Line as a sop to the International Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent, which are averse to the display of the Jewish symbol there.
As we noted, in 2005 MDA applied for membership in the IRC. At the time, the IRC had approved the display on members’ ambulances of the Christian cross, the Muslim (and Palestinian) crescent, and the Red Lion symbol of several Asian nations. As a condition of membership, the MDA had to agree that when it operated over the Green Line – generally comprising territory seized by Israel in 1967 which both Israel and the Palestinians now claim – it eventually would not display the Jewish star. At the time that editorial appeared, it seemed the grace period had passed and the IRC was insisting MDA stop using the Jewish star over the Green Line.
The editorial evoked a vituperative e-mail response from one Robert L. Kern, director of marketing and communications of American Friends of Magen David Adom. Mr. Kern claimed our “suggestion that ‘under pressure from within the IRC, the MDA is now phasing out any display of the Jewish star…’ is a complete and total lie.”
Mr. Kern acknowledged that “In some cases, the star has appeared inside the ‘red diamond’ because that is a universally recognized International Red Cross emblem,” but added that “any suggestion that the ‘Jewish star’ is no longer being used by MDA outside of Israel is wrong.”
And Mr. Kern went on to say, “For the record, [the Jerusalem Post] and Haaretz have acknowledged their mistakes, as corrected by MDA in Israel.”
We were unable to locate any retractions, or even clarifications, from the Jerusalem Post or Haaretz. In any event, last month Haaretz reported that MDA would indeed no longer be operating over the Green Line. Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson wrote that this was pursuant to its agreement with the IRC in 2005 that MDA would remove the Star of David from its ambulances in the West Bank, replacing it with a red diamond shape.
According to Haaretz, MDA will rely on local units to provide emergency ambulance service over the Green Line with ambulances that will not display the traditional Star of David.
And last Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reported:
A senior official in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed…that Magen David Adom removed the “Magen David” symbol from the ambulances it operates in the West Bank to comply with an agreement with the Palestinian Red Crescent, Army Radio reported.
The official, Per Stanbeck, told Army Radio that when Magen David Adom joined the ICRC, it was required to cease operating in the West Bank. Because it cannot operate in the territories, “[they] are outsourcing the ambulances” to local authorities, he said.
Chairman of the Judea and Samaria Council of Settlements Dani Dayan responded with harsh criticism over the news, saying that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is fighting over the details with the Palestinians in Amman, “[Magen David Adom] already recognized a Palestinian state on 1967 borders,” speaking with Army Radio.
This is not about The Jewish Press claiming vindication. We did not then, nor will we ever, be intimidated by those who are upset about our telling it as it is. The significance of this episode is that no organization should feel it can do or say whatever is expedient without fear of exposure.
It will be recalled that The Jewish Press took the lead in criticizing Hillary Clinton during her campaign for the Senate last year. But the fact that we took a back seat to no one in hammering Candidate Clinton for her appalling record on Israel in no way inhibits us from applauding Senator Clinton for her lead role in the efforts to get the International Red Cross to grant membership to the Magen David Adom Society, Israel's rescue and relief service.
The Magen David Adom has been barred from membership ever since the founding of Israel on the ground that its emblem features the Star of David rather than the archetypal red cross. This, even though waivers have been granted to more than 20 aid groups that have emblems other than a red cross, including one for the Moslem Red Crescent.
Senators Clinton and Peter Fitzgerald (R-Illinois ) have launched a public campaign for acceptance of Magen David Adom as a full member of the International Red Cross. They circulated a letter to their senate colleagues ? which was signed by 46 senators ? in which they appealed to the International Red Cross to grant membership to the Magen David Adom. In part the letter read:
The United States must send a clear message to the leadership and the member states of the International Red Cross that the American people will not accept that the Israeli Magen David Adom Society is the only organization excluded from full membership in the largest humanitarian organization in the world.
The letter also pointedly noted that the International Red Cross has been the beneficiary of over $700 million in American taxpayers' money.
It will take a lot to erase the memory of Mrs. Clinton's past record. Certainly it will take more than spearheading an effort that revolves around a basically symbolic though important issue. We would like to hear from her on some of the life and death issues Israelis must confront each and every day. But, it is a beginning and we are listening.