MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) on Wednesday refused to participate in a blood donation drive held in the Knesset by Magen David Adom – in protest over the organization's decision to remove Magen David (Star of David) symbols from ambulances in Judea and Samaria. In the past, Ben-Ari has consistently donated blood to MDA, but on Wednesday, he informed the organization that he would no longer do so as long as they kept up their new policy.
MDA sent out an SMS to all MKs, asking them to participate in the drive. In response to the one he received, Ben-Ari wrote back that “unfortunately I will not be participating in the current drive, unlike the previous five occasions that MDA has called on MKs to donate blood in the past two and a half years. I am not prepared to donate blood to an organization that discriminates against certain groups, preferring one part of the nation and land to the other,” Ben-Ari wrote in his message.
During the course of the drive, Ben-Ari spoke to MDA volunteers and explained his position in person, adding that he was urging the public to boycott MDA blood donations as well. Instead of donating to MDA, Ben-Ari said, he would donate directly to hospitals, so that any blood shortage would be alleviated, but MDA would not get credit for the donations.
Volunteers said that they were not responsible for the decision to remove MDA symbols from ambulances in Judea and Samaria – a move apparently prompted by pressure from the International Red Cross – and Ben-Ari said that he sympathized with their situation, and did not blame them for the problem. Nevertheless, he said, the organization needed to understand that they were doing serious harm to a large group of Israelis, and were in fact endangering the continued existence of MDA altogether.
In recent weeks, it should be noted, the Samaria Residents' Council has begun organizing Yesha residents for a blood donation to take place at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah, where many Samaria residents go for treatment and emergencies. In a statement, the Council said that although this method of donating blood was far more difficult than donating at a regular MDA drive, usually held close to the homes of donors, “we prefer the inconvenience over donating blood to an organization that sees us as second class citizens.”