Credit Dzurag

There’s an ongoing dispute down here in Florida that has to do with the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

And it’s a complicated situation because as a matter of course we are a people who prefer to not get entangled in conflict. But sometimes these matters end up at our front doors or even right outside our front windows. Sometimes literally so.

It seems that in the big cities like New York or New Jersey if you want to display a flag that expresses your allegiance to a country, organization, or entity, you certainly should be able to do so.

In small town America or in communities that have Home Owners Associations (HOAs) the option to legislate these matters become more personal or even private. At times, dealing with these situations becomes eclipsed by emotions rather than logic.

In other words, if you are a Jew that has a special feeling or a love for Israel and Israel is under attack, you might express a sense of solidarity or even relief by procuring a nice-sized Israeli flag and erecting it on your property to demonstrate how you feel and where you stand on the matter.

In the current situation with Israel, there’s the added painful situation of the long-drawn-out hostage crisis. Many would wish to support their Jewish brethren by displaying the Israeli flag. Frankly, it is an unusual situation since Israel was dragged into a war they never wanted, and was forced to suffer through the deaths of over 1,400 people in a one-day attack almost 100 days ago on October 7.

That the HOA rules might suggest that the law is questionable about flying the flags of other countries, this is a situation where it is clear there should have been and still should be where an exception should be made.

So, let’s try to air out these issues in a clear and sober manner, analyzing what we are dealing with sans politics, ill will, and political differences.

Firstly, I don’t believe that displaying the Israeli flag under these circumstances represents the kind of nationalism the HOA is referring to in their bylaws when they prohibited the displaying of flags of nations other than the United States.

And I should add that the displaying of photographs of people held hostage by Hamas in Gaza is also not just a show of solidarity, but also a humanitarian gesture that should transcend whatever the HOA bylaws would allow.

It’s a bad example and a bad comparison, but this is what comes to mind on this matter. A few years back during the Covid pandemic, we also coincidentally had the BLM riots in many major cities, including New York.

It was during this same period that the Covid restrictions closed many schools and shuls and limited gatherings to no more than fifty people, and that all events should be held outdoors. That applied to everyone except the BLM riots, which in some cases drew upwards of several hundred thousand people in relatively small areas. It was at that time when then Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about these gatherings, to which he responded that they were a response to hundreds of years of slavery and had to be accepted and tolerated in that context.

Given that Israel did not provoke the war in Gaza, and their citizens remain in captivity almost 100 days later, is it wrong to similarly view the situation in Israel in a similar context?

HOA rules?

Let’s take a break from that nonsense and look at the matter from another vantage point. If posting pictures of the hostages, young and old, including babies, helps to keep their memory alive and exert some international pressure on the people holding them, then there should be a green light on the matter, including the displaying of Israeli flags in whatever direction the wind is carrying it.

The argument against the flags and the hostage photos is not completely without merit. I just don’t agree with the thought process behind it. Just like the BLM riots of three years ago, sometimes policies that cannot do any real damage can and should be bypassed with the consensus of all involved.

There hasn’t been a single pro-Hamas rally where the Palestinian and Hamas flags were not on full display and no one complained that the sight of the flags was distressing.

Which brings us to an issue of concern that is brought up at these community meetings concerning Israeli flags that are on display from flagpoles or porches, or for that matter from cars, trucks, or bicycles. It’s (lehavdil) similar to a situation where the Hamas flag is flown with no complaints, yet the sight of the Israeli flag suddenly upsets everyone.

Some communities where Israeli flags were on display thought that too much of a “Jewish presence” would attract more of the Hamas protestors that have clogged main arteries in places like New York and Los Angeles.

I’m not even sure it’s the pro-Hamas people who are complaining about the Israeli flags as much as segments of the Jewish community who are complaining about it. In part, I suppose that’s what you can say is unique about the Jewish people, that certain segments of the community object to the displaying of Israeli flags more than the enemies of the Jews, like Hamas or Islamic groups.

It seems that these days, whether you’re pro-Hamas or pro-Black Lives Matter (BLM), you are comfortable with your position no matter what the world says, but if you’re Jewish and want to take a stand on issues that affect the Jewish people and Israel, all of a sudden there’s a huge discomfort in having to deal with this situation.

Someone at a community meeting recently related to me that when the subject of whether to allow Israeli flags to fly from people’s homes as an expression of solidarity with Israel in her war with Hamas came up, a board member made a comment about the fact that they were not asking for mezuzas to be taken down from people’s doorposts.

It seems that none of the opposing groups have these kinds of peripheral sensitivities like some of our people do. Sure, we do not just harbor divided opinions, but as the Torah says, we are a “stiff-necked” people. That means we’re a tough bunch with varied and differing opinions. But even if this is the case, there is a point where a line needs to be drawn and somehow, we must move closer together and become as united as possible.


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