WASHINGTON, June 23 (UPI) -- Congressional leaders Thursday welcomed the induction of Israeli emergency relief agency Magen David Adom into the International Red Cross.
Magen David Adom, which in Hebrew means the Red Shield of David, had been barred from joining because it refused to use either of the official cross or crescent emblems of the International Red Cross Red Crescent Societies. The MDA has used a red, six-pointed star since 1929.
On Thursday, a new secular emblem -- "the red crystal" -- was activated by a vote of the member societies of the Red Cross. The MDA will use this diamond-shaped symbol on international missions.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, thanked the American Red Cross and American Friends of Magen David Adom which have advocated on behalf of the MDA, but said: "The true heroes are the men and women (of Magen David Adom) who do the work day in and day out. This is their day of justice."
Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli ambassador, said: "A major injustice has been corrected. A real wrong has been righted."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said: "It's only because of pure bigotry against a Jewish organization" that MDA had been denied official membership to the Red Cross since the founding of Israel in 1949.
Other rule changes adopted by the Red Cross enabled the Palestinian Red Crescent Society to gain official membership too.