published : 2023-11-15
Massachusetts Town Approves Permit to Fly Palestinian Flag on Public Flagpole
The Palestinian flag will fly in the Town Common until Dec. 7
A Massachusetts town has given approval for a Palestinian flag to be flown on a public flagpole, sparking controversy and debate.
North Andover, Massachusetts officials granted the permit on Monday, allowing the black, white, red, and green flag to be raised on the North Andover Town Common.
According to reports from Boston 25 News, the flag was raised on Tuesday morning and will remain in place until December 7th.
Residents both in favor and opposed to the display of the flag attended a board meeting on Monday night, which had to be rescheduled due to reported threats of litigation and public safety concerns.
One resident, Salma Boulal, expressed the view that if Israel is allowed to fly its flag in the North Andover common, Palestinians should also have the same right.
To ensure order, a large number of police officers were present at the meeting.
The town manager, Melissa Rodrigues, revealed that the application to fly the flag was submitted just hours before the town updated its policy on flag flying.
Under the old policy, a resident could apply to fly a flag on the town's flagpole.
However, the updated policy limits the use of the flagpole to statements of governmental speech, and no other culture-related flags will be permitted.
This change aligns with a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shurtleff v. Boston, which prohibits the denial of a flag application based on its content, meaning, or message.
Marc Freedman, president of the Congregation Ahavat Olam, strongly disagreed with the decision to raise the Palestinian flag and described it as a symbol of hatred and antisemitism.
Freedman voiced his concerns at the board meeting, which saw a packed room of around 600 people.
The board approved the flying of the flag despite some members expressing personal disagreements, as they were advised to do so by counsel.
It's worth noting that North Andover is not the only Massachusetts town to have permitted the raising of the Palestinian flag in a public square.
Last month, Worcester, the state's second-largest city, flew the flag in front of City Hall.
Similarly, the Israeli flag was also flown in Worcester for a week following the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.