Massachusetts board votes to replace Israeli flag with Palestinian flag in town commons amid outcries

Tensions are flaring in North Andover, Massachusetts, where a week ago the Israeli flag was flying in the town commons but now the Palestinian flag is flying instead.

The drama began to unfold after local resident Selma Khayal responded to the Israeli flag being flown in the commons from Oct. 7th to Nov. 9th by submitting a request to have the Palestinian flag flown from Nov. 7th to Dec. 7th.

The request led to a super tense public hearing this Monday at North Andover High School, where several people reportedly were forcibly removed from the room, and where chants of “from the river to the the sea” could be heard.

“It’s a big deal for us to see the Palestinian flag that many of us think represents the attempted genocide of the Jewish people. It basically represents Hamas, since they are the elected ruling party in Gaza,” Rabbi Idan Irelander, one of the request’s opponents, said at the hearing, according to local station WHDH.

“It’s a flag that represents its people, it’s a flag that represents a nation, the heritage of the people, their traditions, their culture and it doesn’t represent a terrorist group,” an unnamed supporter of the request likewise said.

“This is a time of grief and solidarity with the Palestinian people, and it’s taking back the narrative because this flag represents its people, it represents a culture. It is not a terrorist flag, and we will not let it be misconstrued that way,” another supporter, Jenna Khayal, said, according to local station WCVB.

“A lot of tension, a lot of opposition. If Israel gets their flag to fly in the North Andover common then Palestinians deserve that same right,” supporter Salma Boulal said, according to local station WFXT.

After an intense debate, the board voted unanimously to approve the request:

Irelander, who reportedly leads the Ahavat Olam congregation, was not pleased.

“As a Jewish community, we are very disappointed. Unfortunately, today the Palestinian flag represents hatred, represents war, represents anti-Semitism. The raising of the Israeli flag was obviously in solidarity to an American ally,” he said.

In a statement, the board defended its decision by pointing to its old flag policy — which, as of Tuesday, has since been updated (more on this later).

“The prior flag policy specifically allowed a Town resident to submit an application to fly a flag on the Town’s flagpole, resulting in that flagpole being considered a public forum. The recent US Supreme Court decision addressing flag policies in the context of the First Amendment, Shurtleff v. Boston, requires select boards to make content-neutral decisions regarding the raising of flags on flagpoles deemed public forums unless the Town enacts a policy restricting flag poles to governmental speech,” they said.

“The content or the subject matter of a flag cannot be considered when reviewing an application presented under the old policy. According to the decision in the Shurtleff case, the Town may not prohibit a flag to be flown based on its content, its meaning or its message. This limitation on the Select Board’s discretion indicates that denial of a resident’s flag application under the prior policy places the Town in jeopardy of legal action.”

The new policy, instituted immediately after the pro-Palestinian flag vote, has made it so that this issue never becomes a problem again.

“The new policy limits the use of the flagpole to statements of governmental speech only, consistent with the Shurtleff decision. The new policy does not allow a resident to submit an application to raise a flag,” the board explained.

North Andover is one of several Massachusetts towns that have been embroiled in scandal and intrigue ever since the Oct. 7th terror attack on Israel.

“Earlier in October, the Worcester City Council passed a resolution to denounce the kidnapping of Israelis by terror group Hamas. The resolution followed the Oct. 7 Hamas attack from Gaza where some 1,400 Israelis were killed and as many as 250 people taken hostage. However, some criticized the resolution for failing to mention atrocities in Gaza,” according to

“In Salem, two councilors defended attending a Palestinian protest. The councilors said they are supporters of peace on both sides in the escalating conflict and did not regret being at the event. Organizers said the protest, which attracted about 150 people, was of the Israeli government’s counterattacks in Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and the United States’ ongoing support of Israel’s actions.”


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