Hillary Clinton, Ambass.
(photo credit: AP)
At a celebratory, early morning breakfast yesterday on Manhattan's Upper East Side, American supporters of Magen David Adom, including New York Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton, celebrated the organization's inclusion into the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Clinton also took the opportunity to blame Hamas for the recent kidnapping of the IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit, and called for the International Red Cross to demand his release. She said that Hamas were proponents of a "culture of death," and emphasized that Magen David Adom's inclusion was a "great day for all of us who choose life over death."
Local politicians and leaders from the Jewish organizational world expressed relief that Magen David Adom had finally been voted into the international organization. They pointed out that even at the last minute, during two tumultuous days of negotiation at the Red Cross's 29th international conference in Geneva, Arab groups resisted the move and nearly prevented the vote from taking place. But on June 22nd, both Magen David Adom and the Palestinian Red Crescent were admitted as full voting members, now eligible for funds from the international body.
"The inclusion of Israel's Magen David Adom in the International Red Cross has long been one of my top priorities," Clinton told the gathering. "The international Red Cross has finally rectified a tremendous injustice."
Clinton described a Spring 2002 meeting with Yochai Porat, who at the time was the young coordinator of the Jewish Agency's Foreign Volunteers Program, jointly run with Magen David Adom. A week after meeting the Senator, Porat was killed in an attack on a checkpoint where he was on reserve duty as a medic.
"When I think of Magen David Adom, I think of all the people I've met over the years," Clinton said. "But more than anyone else, I have the image in my head of Yochai Porat, who believed firmly in the principles of the group, in humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and voluntary service."
Clinton's commitment to Magen David Adom goes back to her Senate campaign in 2000 when it was the subject of her first talk with leaders of the Jewish community. She said she would now press for Congress to ratify the inclusion with a vote before the end of the current Congressional session, a subject she said she had recently discussed with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.