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Israel's corresponding relief agency, the Mogen David Adom, has provided emergency services to countries all over the world since 1939, and it meets or surpasses every other standard for IFRC membership. Yet Israel remains the only nation left out of the 178- country federation. Why?

An IFRC spokesman says that it is "governments, not the federation, that give emblems the protective force of international law," and that "governments" are preparing to adopt an additional emblem, with no religious or national connotations, to stand alongside the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, one that Israel could adopt as its own.

The consequences of Israel's exclusion are more than merely symbolic. While Israel is permitted to attend Red Cross meetings, it is not permitted to vote. Although the IFRC continues to function without America's dues, it has had to dismiss 6 percent of its headquarters staff. This doesn't impede the amount of Red Cross aid distributed worldwide, but it does present significant logistical and public relations problems.




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