Palestinian, Israeli flags raised in Ramat Gan: 'We're meant to live together'

A bill to ban the display of the Palestinian flag at institutions funded by the state was passed later on Wednesday.

 Palestinian and Israeli flags raised in Ramat Gan (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Palestinian and Israeli flags raised in Ramat Gan
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

A Palestinian and an Israeli flag were hung next to each other on a building in Ramat Gan on Wednesday, hours before a bill to ban the raising of the Palestinian flag in institutions funded by the state was passed in its preliminary reading. The Palestinian flag was removed a few hours later.

The phrase "we were meant to live together" was written above the flags in Hebrew and Arabic. The flags were an initiative of an organization called Mehazkim ("strengthening"), a "left-wing digital movement that advances the values, ideas and solutions of the democratic-liberal camp in Israel," according to its website.

The same banner with both flags remains hung in Nazareth.

Ramat Gan mayor Carmel Shamah-Hacohen, who is a member of Likud, posted on Facebook on Monday that a private advertising company had asked the municipality for permission to put up the flags. The municipality has the authority to block "advertising content" only if the content hurts the feelings of the public, he explained.

 Palestinian flag removed in Ramat Gan (credit: RAMAT GAN MUNICIPALITY) Palestinian flag removed in Ramat Gan (credit: RAMAT GAN MUNICIPALITY)

After the flags were hung, on a building owned by Migdal Insurance and Financial Holdings Ltd., Shamah-Hacohen countered by putting up giant Israeli flags in the vicinity.

"Some see this as provocative and hurtful, while others see it as a message of coexistence and peace," he wrote. The mayor asked readers to vote on whether it would hurt their feelings or not.

Criticism

The hanging of the two flags drew harsh criticism.

Bochrim Bahayim ("Choosing Life"), the forum of bereaved families and families of terror victims, demanded that the Ramat Gan municipality fire whoever was responsible for allowing the flags to go up.

"This is a flag in whose name our loved ones were murdered, a flag that represents a terrorist authority that pays salaries to terrorists and their families and thus encourages additional attacks," the forum said. 

"This is a flag in whose name our loved ones were murdered, a flag that represents a terrorist authority that pays salaries to terrorists and their families and thus encourages additional attacks."

Bochrim Bahayim, the forum of bereaved families and families of terror victims

"The flag may have been removed but our message is alive and kicking," Mehazkim said in response to the flag's removal. "We were meant to live together. There are two nations, including Jews and Arabs, who will continue to fight together for a better future. This sign is just the beginning," the organization said. 

"Mehazkim hung two identical banners — one in Ramat Gan and one in Nazareth," MK Ayman Odeh (Joint List) wrote on Twitter. "[See] which one of them was removed."

A bill to ban the display of "enemy flags" at universities and government institutions – including the Palestinian flag – was set to be brought before the Knesset on Wednesday.