Feature

The polite, Swiss version of anti-Semitism.

The week's news at a glance.

Israel

Alan D. AbbeyYedioth Ahronoth

The International Committee of the Red Cross has finally deigned to let Israel join, said Alan D. Abbey in Tel Aviv’s Yedioth Ahronoth. For six decades, Israel’s aid organization was barred from the international group because it used a red Star of David symbol instead of a cross—even though Muslim countries all got to use a red Islamic crescent. Now, “after a financial boycott by the American Red Cross that has cost the Geneva-based society millions of dollars,” the ICRC has come up with the “ridiculous” solution of allowing Israel’s relief agency to use a tiny, shrunken star squeezed inside a third symbol, a diamond called the “red crystal.” Ostensibly, any country can use the crystal, but in practice, it’s only for Israel. Right-wing commentators are growling that this compromise is “an insult and should be rejected.” They’re right that it’s an insult—and worse, a “classic example of genteel anti-Semitism” on the part of the Swiss—but since it gets Israel into the global organization, the government has accepted it. It’s just too bad that the ICRC didn’t replace all three religious symbols. “If the cross is unacceptable to some, and the crescent is unacceptable to others, and the Star of David is unacceptable to nearly everyone, why not find a new, truly neutral symbol for all to use?”

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