Teaneck, NJ delays Israeli flag ceremony, prompting strong reaction
TEANECK — Emotions are running high among residents as the township has postponed a planned Israeli National Flag Raising Ceremony, citing the ongoing escalated violence in the Middle East.
The Township Council passed a resolution last month authorizing the flag-raising as a way of standing against a "rise of anti-Semitic actions against Jewish residents" in the community and throughout the state.
The turmoil and casualties involving Israel, Hamas and Palestinians in recent weeks "make the original positive messaging and a celebratory event to show support difficult at this time," according to the written message signed by Mayor James Dunleavy and shared to the town's Facebook page on Sunday.
The council took action about 10 days after the 73rd Israeli independence day, noting that the township previously observed the 25th and 50th anniversaries.
Some comments on the postponement news on social media suggest a different way of showing public support for Jewish friends and neighbors, that doesn't involve raising the flag of a "foreign nation," while others called the postponement "cowardice."
Israel is the only country with Jewish symbols on its national flag, which features the Star of David.
The white and blue striped background of the Israeli flag also is in the likeness of a traditional Jewish prayer shawl, according to Pew Research Center, which in 2014 counted that a third of the world’s 196 countries had national flags that include religious symbols. Of those, 31 countries had Christian symbols and 21 included Islamic religious symbols.
"The flag that is used to target Jews through anti-Semitic attacks, is seen as a source of symbolism and pride, carried in support of causes of Justice such as Pride Marches, Women’s Rights Marches and BLM Marches, by Jews around the globe," according to the resolution passed in late April.
Others commenting on the town's Facebook page also brought up those other symbols, saying that if the Israeli flag ceremony does not happen, the town's Black Lives Matter mural should be removed and the Pride Flag also not raised.
Still other individuals weighing in on the same online thread said other movements' displays of pride or support were not "national symbols."
One woman brought up a comparison of showing support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) by flying the flag of either China or North Korea.
There also still remains the issue of separation of government and religion.
Under an ordinance adopted in 2019, the Township Council can approve additional flags to be raised outside public buildings and in public parks and playgrounds, "provided the display of same shall not show religious preference."