That is indeed true, and as a brief examination of the minutes reveals, it was one of the arguments used at the end of the 19th century against the adoption of the red crescent. Many of those who resisted that demand made precisely the point that my hon. Friend makes. Indeed, many people in Israel understand the difficulty, and Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva shares that opinion. He would like to be a member of the international Red Cross and points out that the MDA is active all over the world. He says that it is often the first on the scene—for example, following the tsunami or earthquakes—and that it deserves to be part of the international movement. There is a thirst on the part of Israelis to be part of the movement but a resistance to the use of the symbols that are adopted by the movement.
As I have said, the problem is that the star of David is primarily Israel's national symbol, rather than an emblem of humanitarian relief. Even though it is true that the crescent appears on the flags of many states, I am not sure whether one could convincingly argue that those crescents are as intimately associated with the very identity of the nation as is the star of David with Israel. Lest any hon. Member or anyone elsewhere should think that I am critic of the state of Israel, I want to put on record that the opposite is the case. I am a staunch defender of that place and its people, but as a friend, one has the right to be critical on occasion. It would be better if Israel joined that international community and perhaps compromised in the use of universal symbols.
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