Wiesenthal Center Commends Swiss Efforts To Correct 58-Year Exclusion Of Red Star Of David: ?A Step Forward In The Battle For International Acknowledgment Of Israel?

December 8, 2005

WIESENTHAL CENTER COMMENDS SWISS EFFORTS TO CORRECT 58-YEAR EXCLUSION OF RED STAR OF DAVID: "A STEP FORWARD IN THE BATTLE FOR INTERNATIONAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF ISRAEL"

Geneva-- After, what an Arab diplomat bitterly told the Wiesenthal Center was an "unwanted Caesarean section," nine months of Swiss negotiations have led to the birth of a "Third Additional Protocol," that has added a new symbol alongside the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The neutral Red Crystal will allow the insertion of the Magen David Adom (Red Star of David) of Israel - excluded from the world's humanitarian movement since the State's establishment in 1948.

Of 144 countries present, 98 - an overwhelming majority that exceeded the required two thirds - voted for adoption. There were 27 opposition votes, mostly from Arab States with the support of Cuba and Mali. Bahrain and Jordan were among the 10 states who abstained.

International Committee of the Red Cross President Dr. Jakob Kellenberger told Wiesenthal Center officials present in Geneva that this result "will strengthen international humanitarian law and bring universality a step closer."

"The delaying tactics of the 56-state Organization of the Islamic Conference and the antisemitic statements of the ambassadors of Iran and Syria regarding the Star of David and the defamatory Nazi-characterization of Israel, sadly reflects their true face of rejection of hopes for Middle East peace," noted Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, adding that Syria even refused to discuss their last-minute demands face to face with Israel.

Rebuffing Israeli proposals, Syria's Ambassador Ja’afari denounced Switzerland for "mishandling the conference."

According to Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Wiesenthal Center’s Director for International Liaison, "the Swiss ignored this snub, but courageously would not see their initiative stillborn."

The Wiesenthal Centre looks forward to the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent's endorsement of the Third Protocol in May 2006, when it should come into effect.

"After the Center’s over two decades of involvement in this campaign, we especially thank the American Red Cross and its President, Marti Evans, for their steadfast leadership on this issue," added Rabbi Cooper.

"This is another step forward in the ongoing battle for acknowledgment by the international community of equality for the Jewish people and the State of Israel," concluded Samuels.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, and the Parlatino.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036. or Shimon Samuels on +33 (0) 609 77 01 58.