Anti-government protesters are reclaiming the Israeli flag from the far-right
Every year, on Jerusalem Day, marchers descend on Jerusalem with Israeli flags in hand and terrorize the city’s non-Jewish population.
- Every year, on Jerusalem Day, marchers descend on Jerusalem with Israeli flags in hand and terrorize the city’s non-Jewish population.
- As evidenced by the Flag March, the right often uses national symbols centred around the flag.
- But in just a few short weeks of protest, Israeli pro-democracy activists managed to make the flag switch sides.
Claiming the flag
- The most striking visual element of the protests is the overwhelming presence of Israel’s national flag, practically drowning out all other symbols.
- Protesters report they no longer feel alienated by the flag and fly it proudly, while right-wing figures are calling on their supporters to not give up on the flag.
- The association between the flag and anti-reform dissent had grown so strong that police refused to grant a licence to protesters on Independence Day unless they promised not to fly the flag.
Flags as protest symbols
- Movement leaders organized to make Israeli flags available to demonstrators at major protest sites.
- Shikma Schwartzman-Bressler, one of the protest movement’s leaders, told Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
“Our activity is having an effect.
- These symbols are imbued with meaning by social movements during times of protest and continue to resonate long after the protest has subsided.
- Israel is experiencing an open public debate over who gets to claim national symbols, which national symbols are represented, who gets to speak for the Israeli public and who is included in that public.
- The Israeli and Canadian cases demonstrate how battles over meaning aren’t limited to new or obscure symbols.