The Israeli flag outside of the Beit Ha’Gefen Arab-Jewish center in Haifa.
(photo credit: SHERI OZ)
The Israeli flag is now flying permanently over the Beit Ha’Gefen Arab-Jewish center in Haifa.
However, until this week, this was not the case.
Despite an amendment to the Flag, Symbol and National Anthem Law that was passed in 1986 that states that the Israeli flag must be permanently displayed on public buildings and buildings of corporations providing services to the public, Beit Ha’Gefen – listed on the Haifa website as a municipal corporation – only flew the Israeli flag for special events.
On its own website, Beit HaGefen advertises itself as “an Arab-Jewish center founded in 1963 as a pioneer in the field of intercultural dialogue” and “a key player in instilling the intercultural attitude and constructing a shared society.”
On December 9, 2018, the human rights organization Betzalmo wrote to Beit Ha’Gefen and the City of Haifa requesting that Beit Ha’Gefen obey the law and raise the Israeli flag over the building. This Monday, Assaf Ron, director of Beit Ha’Gefen, submitted his response in writing.
“We happily acknowledge the clarification and therefore we will make sure to raise the Israeli flag on Beit Ha’Gefen according to the law,’ Ron wrote. On Tuesday, Ron told The Jerusalem Post that the flag was already in place.
Betzalmo director Shai Glick, told the Post that he will continue his campaign to ensure that the Israeli flag is raised over public buildings. He next plans to focus on the new Arab Theater, Al Majd, which is scheduled to be opened in Haifa in April.
Gary Koren, a member of the Haifa City Council (Yisrael Beitenu) is conducting a campaign to ensure that all schools in Israel fly Israeli flags, too.
On his Facebook page, he claims that 88% of the educational institutions in the Arab sector do not follow the flag law.
Glick lives in Jerusalem and said he decided to launch his flag campaign in Haifa because “Haifa is a model of true co-existence.”
“Unfortunately, extremist artists who do not represent the voice of the majority, are trying to draw the general Arab population into glorifying terrorists and martyrs using cultural events in a cynical way,” he continued. “An example of this is the controversial play showing the life of Walid Dakka, the Israeli-Arab who was involved in the 1984 kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam. We are trying to prevent the next Dakka from rising up among us, because the health of our society and families, Jews and Arabs alike, depends on co-existence.”
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