MDA fights prejudice alongside saving lives

We are not just Israel’s only national medical emergency and blood service

October 05, 2023 15:21

I was talking to a friend in shul on Rosh Hashanah about Magen David Adom UK’s upcoming trek to Israel and Jordan.

The question that came back to me (as it often does) was: “Why Jordan?” The answer is one I will never tire of repeating...

Back in 2005, MDA Israel was admitted to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and while the American Red Cross played a key part in advocating its admission, it was His Excellency Dr Mohammed Al-Hadid, as Chairman of the Standing Commission (of the Red Cross) and President of the Jordan National Red Crescent Society, who got it over the line.

For me, as CEO of MDA UK, I think our work as Israel’s only national medical emergency and blood service is truly remarkable. Our teams are revered the world over.

But it is seeing MDA operate on the global humanitarian stage that makes me most proud. Whatever your views on Israel and its politics, MDA is something to be cherished. It is lifesaving in action and this would not be possible, outside of Israel at least, were it not for MDA’s membership of the ICRC.

The trek is a simple yet very innovative concept. Firstly, it gets people fundraising for an amazing cause, but secondly, we take people to MDA facilities and they then come back to the UK as brand ambassadors, championing the cause.

Where we push further is Jordan. Here, the group gets to tick off bucket list places such as Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World or the absolutely stunning Wadi Rum, which is just a stone’s throw across the border from Saudi Arabia.

Being in Jordan gives the group the ability to connect with the geopolitical aspects that make MDA’s work unique.

Through our friendship with Dr Al Hadid, we are able to visit the Jordan Red Crescent Hospital, where MDA UK proudly funded one of its operating theatres, and to meet some of the remarkable staff saving lives 24 hours a day, every day.

We also visit refugee camps and get to truly understand some of the very real issues in the region.

The Israeli ambassador and his team also host us at their embassy, the most fortified Israeli embassy in the world, where we will hear first-hand about some of the complexities of Israel-Jordan relations.

This year, the trekkers are completing a two-year project, raising money for the refurbishment of the MDA station in Eilat.

Apart from being a holiday destination, this is a strategically important area as it is the southernmost point of Israel, meaning travel times to major trauma hospitals are long.

MDA’s work with the Jordan Red Crescent on issues such as earthquake preparedness in Eilat and Aqaba is sadly very real and something we were all reminded about during the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

I remember trekking in 2021, and the guide was amazed that a group of British Jews were raising money for the MDA station in Rahat, southern Israel, the largest Bedouin town in the world.

He was so surprised that Jews wanted to support Muslims that this changed his opinion of Israel and Jews to the point that the dial moved from referring to Israel as “over there” to wanting us to show him Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

This is a very simple example of how MDA, by educating people about the facts, removes prejudice and shows that, deep down, we are all the same.

Daniel Burger is the chief executive of Magen David Adom UK and this year sees his 6th MDA trek. To support this year’s trekkers, please visit For more information on 2024 treks, contact Kezia Freeman or visit events/trips-treks-missions/

October 05, 2023 15:21

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