Magen David Adom (MDA) Director-General Eli Bin on Saturday night told Channel 12 about the tension between his organization and the United Hatzalah first response organization as a result of the coronavirus crisis, and the possibility of integrating United Hatzalah volunteers in the coronavirus response.
"It's time to put things on the table," Bin said. "Anyone who wants to come and volunteer as part of and according to the procedures of Magen David Adom and according to the guidelines of Magen David Adom, is invited to do so. There are dozens of haredi first response organizations operating under MDA."
However, Bin clarified that, "We do not allow those with beards to aid any coronavirus patient, or anyone suspected of being a coronavirus patient, and that's the first thing. The protective equipment which our organization has, and which there is in the world at large, does not protect people who have beards."
"We called on our workers to remove their beards. We turned to the chief rabbis to tell those who serve in Magen David Adom to remove their beards, the Defense Ministry can force its soldiers to remove their beards, but MDA cannot."
Many religious Jews do not shave or cut their beards, due to religious beliefs.
When asked again about the possibility of integrating other organizations into their activities, Bin said that just like those in the media do not want others telling them handle their broadcasts, the same goes for first aid. "Everyone needs to wear the MDA uniform, everyone needs to look professional. Everyone needs to have a certificate of honesty."
United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack responded: "The comments made by Eli Bin are simply absurd and border on religious racism. Among United Hatzalah's volunteers are 6,000 men and women from all segments of Israeli society, Jews, both religious and secular, as well as Christians, Muslims, Druze, Bedouin etc."
"Eli Bin is interested in protecting the monopoly that Magen David Adom has built surrounding emergency medical services in Israel. This is in an effort to obtain the goal that every person who works in the field of emergency medicine will have to answer to him and wear a uniform of which carries the symbol of Magen David Adom.
"The current Health Minister in Israel, Yaakov Litzman, is the person responsible for making sure that all medical emergency organizations work together, not Eli Bin. Litzman, who is supposed to be working to better the relationships between the organizations, has left the decision-making to Magen David Adom's brass. This is due to his own political reasons and out of worry for those who are close to him personally. Therefore, Litzman has given up on an incredible lifesaving force of more than 6,000 emergency medical practitioners who can offer a great deal of help in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.
"In this time of national emergency, I call on upon Health Minister Litzman to get his act together and incorporate the thousands of volunteers from United Hatzalah in the national effort to stop the spread of this disease."