Utah school rejects Palestinian flag from ‘hall of flags’ because it might offend ‘Israeli students or conservatives in the community’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 18 Comments

The Salt Lake City Weekly reports:

Rashad Nijim hails from California but also holds citizenship in Palestine, where his parents are from and where he takes frequent trips, especially during the summer. But when he gave Utah Valley University administration a flag of Palestine to display in the Hall of Flags alongside the flags of other students’ countries, he was given the run-around for months before being told that, among other issues, the flag would be offensive to Israeli students. Now, Nijim has taken his message to an online petition site and is rallying to get the administration to celebrate the diversity of all of its students.

Nijim, a 21-year-old aviation administration student at UVU, says he doesn’t understand why school administrators thought a flag would open up an Orem front in the Middle East conflict when he says the flag is just a representation of his people and his culture.

“Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map and that might offend someone, yet its flag is right next to Israel’s in the Hall of Flags,” Nijim says in disbelief.

The debate started in late 2011 when a friend of Nijim’s in the student government recommended he donate his flag to the university’s Hall of Flags, which displays dozens of flags in a long windowed hallway connecting the school’s Pope Science Building and Business Administration Building. When Nijim offered to donate the flag, he says, school administrators told him they would get back to him. After a few months of not hearing back, Nijim reached out to administration again, only to be told, he says, that the school wouldn’t display the flag since Palestine lacked recognition by the United Nations.

When the United Nations granted Palestine nonvoting observer status in November 2012, Nijim asked once again for his flag to be displayed. A meeting was eventually arranged between Nijim and Stephen Crook, the director of International Student Services.

Nijim says Crook offered a number of reasons why the school couldn’t display the flag, including that there wasn’t room in the Hall of Flags—a point Nijim disputes. He says Crook also said that for the flag to be displayed, Palestine would have to be recognized as a country by the U.N., not just as an observer.

Nijim takes issue with that stipulation, since the hall displays the flags of Guam and Puerto Rico, which are territories of the United States and not U.N.-recognized countries.

He says he was also told that the flag might offend Israeli students or conservatives in the community, especially since Utah is proudly “pro-Israel.”

Read the rest here.

(h/t Richard Nasser)

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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18 Responses

  1. Light
    April 22, 2013, 11:40 am

    Nijim has taken his message to an online petition site and is rallying to get the administration to celebrate the diversity of all of its students.

    Do you have a link to his petition?

  2. amigo
    April 22, 2013, 12:18 pm

    The world forgets , it revolves around Israel , the so called Nation State of the Jewish people.

    Et al are of secondary concern.

  3. Cliff
    April 22, 2013, 12:18 pm

    Disgusting cowardice and fanaticism.

    Oh, a whole State is pro-Israel? What-the-F-ever.

  4. HarryLaw
    April 22, 2013, 12:20 pm

    “Nijim reached out to administration again, only to be told, he says, that the school wouldn’t display the flag since Palestine lacked recognition by the United Nations” and that “Palestine would have to be recognized as a country by the U.N., not just as an observer”. Now that recognition as a state by the UNGA has been achieved a failure to display the flag by changing the required conditions is obvious discrimination. Something tells me Rashad is not going to take this lying down, please persevere.

  5. Hostage
    April 22, 2013, 1:13 pm

    As a matter of intertemporal and conventional international law the United States actually did extend formal recognition to the Mandated State of Palestine. It still recognizes Palestinian nationality as a federally protected characteristic under Justice and Education department equal opportunity and treatment programs.

    Here is some background on the subject:

    *In the case of Kletter v. Dulles, Secretary of State, the United States District Court District Of Columbia ruled in 1953 that:

    The contention of the plaintiff that Palestine, while under the League of Nations mandate, was not a foreign state within the meaning of the statute is wholly without merit. . . . Furthermore, it is not for the judiciary, but for the political branches of the Government to determine that Palestine at that time was a foreign state. This the Executive branch of the Government did in 1932 with respect to the operation of the most favored nations provision in treaties of commerce.


    During the mandate era, the US government established quotas, issued immigrant visas, and admitted aliens from Palestine who still legally reside in this country today. The applicable portions of the US Code still recognize the former League of Nations mandate as a separate foreign state or country of origin for those persons. The United States recognized Palestinian nationality in accordance with Article 30 of the Treaty of Lausanne and the Nationality Law cited in Article 7 of the Anglo-American Palestine Convention, 44 U.S. Stat. 2184 (1925).

    U.S. Title 8, Chapter 12, § 1101. “Definitions” still distinguishes between aliens who immigrated from mandates and those from outlying imperial possessions. It says that territories under mandate or UN trusteeship shall be regarded as separate foreign states. But imperial possessions and outlying territories are not considered separate states.

    Governments come and go. The practice of recognizing the statehood of a country has customarily been considered separate from the related practice of recognizing the legitimacy of its government or establishing and maintaining diplomatic relations. The US is a signatory of the Montevideo Convention, which the State Department still lists among its “Treaties in force”. Article 6 establishes the principle that recognition of statehood is considered “unconditional and irrevocable”. — http://www.jus.uio.no/english/services/library/treaties/01/1-02/rights-duties-states.xml

    The Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States § 201 Reporter’s Note 3 says: “The United States will treat States the territory of which is under foreign military occupation as continuing to exist.”

    All of those principles were reflected in official policies of the US government that were published through the mid-1990s. When the government of Israel objected to the use of the term Palestine, our State Department advised that

    ”in a de jure sense”, Jerusalem was part of Palestine and has not since become part of any other sovereignty. That it was not a simple matter, since there was a ”quota nationality”, in regard to which U.S. legislation and regulation continue to employ the term Palestine.

    See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Vol. Xviii, Near East, United States. Dept. of State, G.P.O., 1995, ISBN 0160451590, page 341

  6. K Renner
    April 22, 2013, 1:16 pm

    Good article, but Nijim shouldn’t repeat the myth that Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map”.

    It’s actually more like the other way around- Israel wants to destroy Iran, and has threatened to attack repeatedly.

  7. rjk2142
    April 22, 2013, 1:20 pm

    For anyone interested in signing Rashad Nijim’s petition, the link is here: http://www.change.org/petitions/utah-valley-university-allow-the-palestinian-flag-to-hang-in-the-hall-of-flags-2#share

  8. DICKERSON3870
    April 22, 2013, 2:06 pm

    RE: “Utah school rejects Palestinian flag from ‘hall of flags’ because it might offend ‘Israeli students or conservatives in the community’ ” ~ Adam H.

    MY COMMENT: Forget it, Jake Adam. It’s Chinatown Utah!


    Evelyn Mulwray: “Tell me, Mr. Gittes: Does this [having had a bowtie-wearing “midget” slice his nose with a knife] often happen to you?”
    Jake Gittes: “Actually, this hasn’t happened to me for a long time.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “When was the last time?”
    Jake Gittes: “Why?”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “It’s an innocent question.”
    Jake Gittes: “In Chinatown.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “What were you doing there?”
    Jake Gittes: “Working for the District Attorney.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “Doing what?”
    Jake Gittes: “As little as possible.”
    Evelyn Mulwray: “The District Attorney gives his men advice like that?”
    Jake Gittes: “They do in Chinatown.”

    SOURCE – SOURCE – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071315/quotes

    ● P.S. “FREE DON” SIEGELMAN PETITION – http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-please-restore-justice-and-pardon-my-dad

  9. Mike_Konrad
    April 22, 2013, 3:09 pm

    Funding. I doubt there are many Israeli students in Utah Valley University.

  10. Joe Catron
    April 22, 2013, 3:15 pm

    It’s regrettable that Nijim resorted to false propaganda against Iran. Presumably he had heard it somewhere and believed it, but a valid example would have strengthened his argument considerably.

    “According to legend, Iran’s President has threatened to destroy Israel, or, to quote the misquote, ‘Israel must be wiped off the map’. Contrary to popular belief, this statement was never made, as the following article will prove. ”


  11. Justpassingby
    April 22, 2013, 5:37 pm

    “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map.. ”

    Najim might want to get his fact straight.

    • talknic
      April 23, 2013, 7:44 am

      @ Justpassingby

      Indeed … Is there any difference in the essence of the following two statements?

      1) “Israel must end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem”

      2) “The occupation regime over Jerusalem must be erased from the pages of time”


  12. Abu Malia
    April 22, 2013, 5:58 pm

    Great reporting as alway Adam. It often feels like Palestine is not the only country under occupation.

  13. RoHa
    April 22, 2013, 8:15 pm

    “the flag would be offensive to Israeli students.”

    Whereas the Israeli flag isn’t offensive to anyone?

    Or is it just that the delicate feelings of the Israeli students are much more important than anyone else’s feelings?

  14. dbroncos
    April 23, 2013, 2:08 am

    Utah Valley University dismisses the Palestinian flag…hmmm. Contrast that with the way in which Israel’s flag is prominently featured on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The flags of the world are displayed in alphabetical order along both sides of the parkway which connects City Hall to the Philadelphia Art Museum. All the flags are in alphabetical order except one. The Israeli flag is out of order, prominently displayed as the first in a long line of flags so that those who are stopped at the traffic light will pause and see it first and foremost before going on green, speeding past the flags behind it. Needless to say, the Palestinian flag is also absent from the Ben Franklin Parkway.

    Tell me I’m seeing things. Has anyone else familiar with Philadelphia noticed this? I have a hard time believing that this happened by accident.

  15. dbroncos
    April 23, 2013, 2:29 am

    I should have mentioned above that the flags of the world displayed on the Ben Franklin Parkway have the names of the countries they represent posted below them. It’s not the flags but the names of the countries that are in alphabetical order :-)

  16. talknic
    April 23, 2013, 2:57 am

    Very sad when an educational institution doesn’t know how states are recognized or the steps to becoming a UN Member.

    When it comes to Israel, logic dis-appears’

    Have dashed this off to Stephen Crook, the director of International Student Services. Feel free [email protected]

    Dear Sir,

    I feel it necessary to point out that the UN does not recognize States.

    States are first declared and plead for recognition. Palestine BTW has already been recognized by the majority of the world’s nations.

    E.g., The State of Israel declared and pleaded for recognition. It was recognized as it asked to be recognized “as an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947, and that a provisional government has been charged to assume the rights and duties of government for preserving law and order within the boundaries of Israel, for defending the state against external aggression, and for discharging the obligations of Israel to the other nations of the world in accordance with international law. The Act of Independence will become effective at one minute after six o’clock on the evening of 14 May 1948, Washington time” ( http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/documents/newPDF/49.pdf )

    Russia “Confirming receipt of your telegram of May 16, in which you inform the Government of the USSR of the proclamation, on the basis of the resolution of the United Nations Assembly of November 29, 1947, of the creation in Palestine of the independent State of Israel and make re-quest for the recognition of the State of Israel and its provisional government by the USSR. I inform yon in this letter that the Govern-ment of the USSR has decided to recognize officially the Stale of Israel and its Provisional Government.” ( http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2193961?uid=3737536&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101452858741 )

    Australia “… on the basis of the resolution of the United Nations Assembly of November 29, 1947” ( http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/43802115 )

    New Zealand “It is the understanding of the New Zealand Government that the settlement of boundaries and other outstanding questions will be effected in accordance with the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 11 December 1948.” ( http://www.google.com.au/search?q=%22in+accordance+with+the+resolution+of+the+General+Assembly+of+the+United+Nations+of+11+December+1948%22&btnG=Search+Books&tbm=bks&tbo=1 )

    Israel was recommended by the UNSC for UN Membership only AFTER being recognized by a majority of the world’s nations as “an independent republic within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947”.

    The UN then voted to accept the already “defined” ( http://pages.citebite.com/o1y0c4n1i3fa ) and already recognized State of Israel as a UN Member.

    To suggest Israeli students might be offended really is quite bizarre.

    It was Palestine partitioned without consulting the citizens of Palestine ( http://pages.citebite.com/i1g4k6n3i3spr )

    The tiny amount of ‘real estate’ bought by Jews and Jewish institutions pales into insignificance compared to the amount of ‘territory’ allotted and officially accepted on behalf of the Jewish State ( http://pages.citebite.com/m1l4a6f3d4edm ), completely gratis.

    Final acceptance was witnessed by the enshrining of UNGA res 181 in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel ( http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Declaration+of+Establishment+of+State+of+Israel.htm )

    Since Israel was declared and recognized, it has been remaining Palestinian territory that has been illegally acquired by war ( http://pages.citebite.com/y1f0t4q1v4son ) by Israel, illegally annexed by Israel ( http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/b86613e7d92097880525672e007227a7/6de6da8a650b4c3b852560df00663826?OpenDocument ) and illegally settled by Israel ( http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/BA123CDED3EA84A5852560E50077C2DC ).

    I hope this issue is resolved in an amicable and just manner

    (please excuse the pseudonym)

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