Removal of the Palestinian flag as an erasure of Palestinian identity
What is being witnessed in 2022 is not a novelty, as such flag bans were first implemented in 1967 immediately after the Six-Day War in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
There is nothing more repulsive than attempts to desecrate, demonize, and degrade symbols of justice that are precious for specific populations and millions of people across the world. For those who stand against oppression, aggression, subjugation, apartheid, and settler colonialism, the Palestinian flag is a symbolic representation of freedom and the legitimate right of an occupied population to be liberated from the shackles of Zionism. The popularity of Palestinian symbolism is unrivaled and reflected in the sentiments of millions of Muslims and human rights activists across the world.
Yet, in 2023, the neo-conservative, fascist, and Zionist demagogue, Itamar Ben-Gvir who idolizes terrorist Baruch Goldstein announced that the flag will be outlawed across "Israel". This follows a series of punitive steps taken by the Zionist government since it assumed office in December 2022 and constitutes a systematic push to erase the Palestinian identity by force. The Netanyahu government which opted for a far-right provocateur to become a national security minister is simply obsessed with equating legitimate resistance and justice with terrorism and defiance. The truth is that despite unrivaled praise for the Palestinian flag, its identity, and what it represents, Ben-Gvir unabashedly equates it with representing terrorism which, by definition, belittles the historical sacrifices that Palestinians have rendered in claiming their just right to self-determination.
There should be little doubt that Ben-Gvir’s hardline and uncompromising approach toward the Palestinians is grounded in the toxic orientation of Zionism which is the bedrock of his Jewish Power Party, which is now an integral part of Netanyahu’s far-right government. With political backing in 2023, Ben-Gvir has the license to practice quintessential terrorism by being an avowed ‘Kahanist’. Kahanism is an ideology that stems from the former ‘Kach’ party which was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States State Department in 2004 and is both anti-Arab and anti-Muslim in its approach. Furthermore, the far-right Otzma Yehudit party won six seats in the Israeli 2022 elections, which allows for terrorism as a weapon to become more institutionalized and normalized. The year 2022 for example saw the Israeli occupation forces being allocated a staggering 180 million NIS or $ 52,256,340 despite its horrific role in incarcerating Palestinian minors who continue to languish in Israeli jails over administrative orders. This constitutes a systematic erosion of ethnic, religious, and cultural identity.
The flag ban has also resurfaced in "Israel" and speaks of the occupying regime’s historically racist character. What is being witnessed in 2022 is not a novelty, as such flag bans were first implemented in 1967 immediately after the Six-Day War in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Then in 1980, an Israeli law was passed that made it unlawful for artwork of ‘political significance’, including the four colors of the Palestinian flag, to be displayed. Even after the "Oslo Accords" of 1993, the occupation forces arbitrarily confiscated the flag, and as recently as June 2021, the Knesset passed a new bill calling for banning the flag in occupier-funded institutions. In 2021, it was another far-right, fascist Eli Cohen who justified the move by labeling it as an enemy flag.
In 2023, Netanyahu said the presence of the Palestinian flag on Israeli-occupied territory constitutes ‘wild incitement.’ This is despite the fact that Netanyahu’s government is inciting Israelis to revolt against its lack of legitimacy and character. Ben-Gvir’s flag ban orders, for example, came after mass protests took place in "Israel" against both the government’s plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank and "Justice" Minister Yariv Levin’s attempt to overhaul the already shambolic judicial system. With such internal turmoil, the government has resorted to lowly diversionary tactics by targeting the soft Palestinian resistance. In the nascent stages of the government’s tenure, it also rescinded the travel permit of Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al Malki and withheld $39 million in revenues from the Palestinian Authority. These decisions are part of attempts to punish Palestinians for reaching out to the International Court of Justice to provide legal opinions on the Israeli occupation, which is illegal under international law.
With the decision to ban the flag in January 2023 in place, this far-right government is now stifling every ounce of resistance to injustice that the Palestinian people employ to rid themselves of the decade’s old settler colonial project. Hence, banning flags constitutes an act of apartheid. There should be little doubt that the Zionist regime’s policies are policies of ‘erasures’ as Ben-Gvir’s moves are jeopardizing Palestinian visibility in the international conscience. According to Dr. Linda Tabar from the University of Sussex, "Israel’s" actions are essentially negating the Palestinian right to live through suffocation. Her analysis is buttressed by the normalization of the fringe in 2023. It is noteworthy that Ben-Gvir, prior to 2020, was an unknown figure in Israeli politics due to his endorsement of terrorism, glorification of the Jewish race, and antagonism directed against Arabs and Muslims. His rise to power is also anchored in attacks against the Palestinian population in Sheikh Jarrah by settler colonial forces in 2021. For him, to assume the post of Police Minister in 2023 entails further suffocation for the Palestinian people, which includes the removal of flags from occupied territory.
Hence, there should be little doubt that the removal of Palestinian symbolism is a systematic procedure to erase Palestinian identity. This is simply, Apartheid 2.0. in 2023.