By Ray Hanania
Sometimes you need a crazy person to do something crazy to remind people about where the line of decency and justice and righteousness really lies.
In Israel, the line is being clearly defined over orders by Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a right-wing fanatic who has been empowered by returning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ben-Gvir has ordered Israeli police to remove any Palestinian flags flown by citizens, non-Jewish or even Jewish, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories that Israel controls militarily and by steady oppression.
Banning the Palestinian flag has only served to shine a bright spotlight on the oppressive nature of Israel, more than it has achieved its goal of suppressing Palestinian civil and human rights.
That Israel’s extremists feel comfortable in strengthening their oppressive measures in a way is a good thing because it is a slap in the face for those who have defended Israel over the years.
Banning the flying of a flag that has been recognized by hundreds of nations and organizations around the world is more of a condemnation of the direction in which Israel is heading than an act of defiance against Palestinian statehood.
Ben-Gvir’s ban on the Palestinian flag has energized, not silenced, activism by Palestinians and their supporters to re-awaken the nationalism that they have embedded deep in their hearts through many decades of oppressive Israeli policies.
The ban has made it easier to point a finger at Israel and argue that Israel is more of an oppressive state than it is a Jewish state, in both policy and spirit. Those who have hesitated to criticize Israel in the hope that their silence will keep the door open for moderation have realized that remaining silent does not work.
The red, black, white and green bannered Palestine flag is being showcased around the world in a way that it has not been in years. People are speaking about it, challenging Israel’s assertions that it is a democracy that does not enforce discriminatory apartheid policies, and they are questioning the very foundation of Israel’s longstanding defense, the propaganda and lies that have been a teflon shield against charges of both human rights and civil rights violations.
For years Israel has been able to kill protesters, arguing falsely that the demonstrators, who were frequently shot in the head by snipers, had encouraged the violence through their own often emotional protests.
However, banning a flag raises serious questions about the credibility of Israel’s propaganda defensive arguments.
Only an apartheid, racist state would put so much effort into snuffing out civil rights by banning a flag that speaks to the fundamental human right of Palestinian civilians to believe in something that is more powerful than even Israel’s American-funded military.
The Palestinian flag is a powerful symbol that Ben-Gvir’s ban order has only served to strengthen. Banning the Palestinian flag has turned it into a new and stronger signal in the war of perceptions that has existed between Israelis and Palestinians for more than seven decades, and has given Palestinians an opportunity to turn the tide.
The Palestinians need to make more flags and distribute them to their people. The Palestinian flag needs to wave from every home and mountaintop like a powerful message that embraces the fundamentals of freedom fighters such as Martin Luther King Jr., who championed civil and human rights in America and whose death created a powerful movement that continues to challenge racism in the West.
For every Palestinian flag that Ben-Gvir’s violent shock troopers rip down or tear from the hands of peacefully protesting Palestinians, Palestinians should raise two more. And for every person confronted and accosted by the Palestinian flag ban, five more people should be convinced to join in solidarity.
The Palestinian flag has found a new and powerful symbolism that many may have thought had been lost through years of status quo violence, Israeli brutality and oppression.
Nothing symbolizes the failure of an oppressor more than seeing that oppressor stomp on the nonviolent essence of a piece of material sewn into the shape and power of a flag.
Banning the flag is almost a public admission by Israel’s new government that they are failing in their efforts to erase Palestine and to silence the Palestinian voices who demand freedom and justice and statehood.
In a way, we must thank Ben-Gvir for reminding everyone what the real fight for Palestinian freedom is all about. His ugly hate-driven rhetoric and policies serve as fuel to empower Palestinians and a new revival, not just in Palestine but around the world.
Every Palestinian and every person who supports peace and justice for the Palestinians should display the Palestinian flag not just from their homes but from the platform of social media.
The more Netanyahu’s government tries to impose this abhorrent civil rights segregation against the Palestinians, the more the Palestinians will find the power to fight back in a more meaningful manner than through anger — protests that sometimes turn violent or hate that distorts the true essence of the Palestinian movement.
Wrap yourself in the flag and use it as a principle of infinite justice to defiantly stand in the face of Israel’s ugliness and without saying a word convey the powerful message that we have had enough.
Ben-Gvir can tear down as many Palestinian flags as he wants in his megalomaniacal hatred of Palestinian freedom. But for each one he tears down, far more will rise and wave in a chorus of civil rights and freedom.