Is your Israeli flag really blue-and-white?

Legislation introduced to require all Israeli flags to be made here; MKs say reliance on imports leads to failure of Israeli textile plants.

Israeli flags 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israeli flags 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
In the weeks before Independence Day, Israelis deck out their cars, their houses, and sometimes even their barbeque grills in Israeli flags, in what may be a patriotic habit, but one whose economic benefit is only felt thousands of kilometers away from Israel’s borders. Not for long, says a group of MKs who succeeded Wednesday in passing in its preliminary reading a bill that would mandate that Israeli flags are manufactured in Israel.
In recent years, production of Israeli flags has been dominated by a number of foreign states, including China and Turkey, due to cheaper manufacturing costs. It has also led to flags, given away for free to thousands a couple of years ago, which were printed incorrectly.
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The bill’s sponsors said that the growing reliance on imported flags has led to the failure of textile plants in Israel that produced national flags.
The bill is an amendment to the Law of the Flag and National Symbol, and would mandate that Israeli flags must be manufactured in Israel. In addition to Knesset Economic Affairs Committee Chairman Ofir Akunis (Likud), the bill was sponsored by a number of MKs from both coalition and opposition parties – MKs Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), Alex Miller (Israel Beiteinu) and Majallie Whbee (Kadima).
It not only restricts production of Israeli flags to Israeli-owned companies or Israeli citizens or permanent residents, but also forbids the sale of foreign-produced flags, including a special clause to prohibit the acquisition of foreign-made Israeli flags or symbols of the State of Israel by any institution that receives over 50% of its funding from the government.
Akunis said that they would push to complete the legislation in advance of Independence Day, which will be celebrated on May 10, 2011. To that end, Akunis is fast-tracking the bill in his committee, with the first hearing on the legislation slated for this coming Monday.
“This is both a national and a social law of the first order,” said Akunis. “We must do everything we can to encourage and develop Israeli industry, especially industries in the periphery, and it is appropriate that we begin by having public institutions purchase Israeli-made goods.”
The bill enjoys strong support from the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, but faced some initial apprehension within the government.
That opposition vanished on Monday, when the Ministerial Committee for Legislation reached an agreement between the bill’s sponsors on one side and the Ministries of Justice and Industry, Trade and Labor on the other that the law’s advancement would not in any way harm existing international trade agreements.
The bill’s sponsors convinced the committee that the law, in its current format, had no impact on existing trade agreements.