Trending Topics:

Israeli and American flags fly at half-staff in the Five Towns

on 36 Comments

photo photo-1Yesterday I took these pictures of flagpoles at two Jewish centers that are across the street from one another in Cedarhurst, Long Island: the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Kulanu center for special services for Jewish kids.

As you can see, on both flagpoles, two flags are at half-staff. Not just the Israeli flag, but the American one.

It’s not clear to me why any Jewish organizations in the United States should be in mourning for an Israeli prime minister. We’re not in Israel. The flagpoles are indicative of ways of thought that have entwined us in very bad patterns. The same can be said about Hillel International’s guidelines telling Hillel chapters what they can and can’t talk about. Why should Hillel have any concern about how American students talk about Israel?

Then of course there’s Ariel Sharon’s legacy. A large part of his reputation is as a butcher. His entire life was dedicated to military ventures, many of them brutish. The Lebanon invasion killed thousands across that country, even before the massacres in Beirut. His reputation began in 1953 when he led a unit that carried out reprisal raids on Palestinian villages for Palestinian attacks on Israelis; in one of them, his unit slaughtered 69 people.

And now Americans– including Palestinian-Americans — can look at this display, for children, and say, You see, they’re revering a murderer.

Scott Roth

Scott Roth is publisher of Follow him on twitter at scottroth76 .

Other posts by .

Posted In:

36 Responses

  1. Krauss on January 14, 2014, 11:37 am

    The issue of an Israeli flag at half-stand is bizarre, but at least on some level partly understandable if you wish to remain committed to a country far away. I mean the vast majority of Jews in America are not immigrants or even 2nd generation immigrations anymore. There Israeli and Soviet Jewry who are, but they comprise a clear minority. But this is a messy identity politics issue that requires long debate, not sufficed in a single commentary.

    Why they chose to make an American flag fly at half-stand, however, does merit a response for the sheer craziness/nuttiness of the act.

    Doing so indicates that Sharon’s death was somehow America’s loss.
    This is beyond merely crazy. This is deranged, utterly deranged and delusional.

    • American on January 14, 2014, 2:09 pm

      Pell mell toward that Appointment in Samarra…..I hope US Jews have enough sense to resist ethnic tribalism…..probably the older ones wont…maybe most younger ones will.
      I dont know what to call it when a foreign nation calls on certain citizens of another nation to ‘identify tribally with that other nation.
      I cant find anything historically where a foreign country actually had a official or formal government funded and publically open plan of this type.
      Usually if some group in a foreign country seeks support from ‘like fellows’ in another country, as for instance the Irish IRA , its done thru a grape vine on the quiet, not a billion dollar public campaign.

      Israel to spend billions on initiative to bolster Jewish identity in Diaspora


      “In addition to strengthening ties to Israel, it could help shift the ways Jews think about being Jewish,” by strengthening the “tribal, ethnic approach to being Jewish.”

      • Sibiriak on January 14, 2014, 9:52 pm


        I dont know what to call it when a foreign nation calls on certain citizens of another nation to ‘identify tribally with that other nation.

        But Jews are members of a single, unitary Jewish nation–it is said– and Israel is the State for that Jewish nation. There is no “Israeli nation”, only a Jewish nation. Therefore, Israel cannot be a “foreign nation” for the “Jewish people”.

      • American on January 15, 2014, 12:22 am


        Only on planet Zio are Jews a single, unitary nation…lol

  2. James North on January 14, 2014, 12:06 pm

    Extraordinary. I trust Scott Roth and I see the photos. Otherwise I would think the story was a spoof.

  3. bilal a on January 14, 2014, 12:47 pm

    Lunatics not just in the Five Towns looks like the NSA selected one such perp for pickup:
    Andrew Scott Boguslawski, 43 of Moores Hill, Ind., is charged with illegal assembly and possession of chemical weapons and illegal manufacture or processing of explosives.

    in total, bomb squad members found 58 improvised explosive initiators, 25 IEDs inside bottles and one bomb weighing 1.5 pounds. They also found materials to make more bombs, according to court testimony.

    • Krauss on January 14, 2014, 1:44 pm

      What has that have to do with anything Scott just posted?
      You’re derailing the thread.

  4. American on January 14, 2014, 1:11 pm

    You Do Not fly the US flag at half staff to recognize Any foreign official…..Except by Executive Order of the US President.
    I havent seen where Obama issued any such order for Sharon.

    Here are the rules:

    • Ellen on January 14, 2014, 1:30 pm

      Those into flag idolatry probably do not even know they are desecrating the flag. This should be reported to the flag police.

      • Krauss on January 14, 2014, 1:44 pm

        “The flag police”

        I wish there was something like this.

      • hophmi on January 14, 2014, 3:48 pm

        Yeah, well, both are orthodox religious institutions, so I’m not very surprised. That’s the beauty of America; you can celebrate your heritage and still feel at home, at least when bigots are not trying to change all of that by making accusations of dual loyalty or calling for restrictions on freedom of speech as some here do.

      • Donald on January 14, 2014, 6:57 pm

        Public mourning for the death of a war criminal is celebrating their heritage?

        I don’t really care about the flags, personally. Flags and what people do with them drives a tremendous amount of utterly uninteresting debate. They mean a lot to many people–I seem to lack the flag-caring gene. But anyway, the significance of this particular incident is that they seem to be honoring a stupid murderer. It’d be like a Muslim school flying two flags, including the American one, at half mast when some Hamas leader responsible for suicide bombings died. People would probably question this. Even some non-bigoted people.

      • Cliff on January 14, 2014, 7:20 pm

        Are the students at that Hebrew school, Israeli citizens?

        If not, then what the hell does the Israeli flag – a symbol of a country they do not live in and likely do not have citizenship of – have to do with their ‘heritage’?

        What does this have to do with religion (your bigotry accusation)?

        Of course dual loyalty exists in Zionist Jews. Nothing bigoted about being against dual loyalty.

        I’m an American. Not an Israeli. Israel is not good for America. Zionism is not good for America.

        YOU are not good for America.

        Stop associating that apartheid ethnocracy with this country. People oppose Zionism, not Jews (although surely, there are people who hate Jews for being Jews).

      • RoHa on January 14, 2014, 7:45 pm

        How is the Israeli flag part of the “heritage” of American Jews?

        In so far as has nothing to do with the history of the USA, it is no more part of American “heritage” than the flag of Hong Kong.

        Most American Jews were born in the US, so it is not the flag of their country of birth. Most of their ancestors came from various European countries, so it not a flag of those ancestral countries.

        To be “heritage” it has to be in some way “inherited”*. But the Israeli flag is the flag of a country that did not exist before 1948, and to which the majority of American Jews have no connection by birth or ancestry. What, then, makes it “heritage”?

        (*The term “heritage” seems to have become popular in recent years, and yet the concept seems so ill-defined as to make it no more than an emotional buzz-word.)

      • eljay on January 14, 2014, 8:16 pm

        >> That’s the beauty of America; you can celebrate your heritage …

        And you can even celebrate things you pretend are your heritage.

      • wondering jew on January 14, 2014, 9:16 pm

        Mourning a former prime minister of Israel is celebrating their heritage.

      • ToivoS on January 14, 2014, 10:28 pm

        Of course Hopni is right here. The separation of church and state makes it quite clear that people can pray to any symbol they wish and that includes the flags of foreign nations. We are not calling out for restrictions on those rights protected in the constitution. We are just pointing out this odd custom that certain Jewish sects in the US are praying before the Israeli flag. It is an odd custom. I think the 98% of Americans who are not Jewish might find that custom amusing and it is certainly worth pointing out and talking about it.

        There is something else embedded in the US constitution and that is the right to ridicule religions and their sacred texts. Mark Twain was famous for many of his lampoons of the bible. Today we find it odd that many Jews pray before the Israeli flag and it our protected right to ridicule and laugh at that practice.

        You and Yonah might find our humor offensive but so be it.

      • wondering jew on January 14, 2014, 10:40 pm

        Toivo S. – Which humor have I found offensive? Specify please.

      • Sibiriak on January 15, 2014, 2:27 am


        Are the students at that Hebrew school, Israeli citizens?

        No. But Israel, we are told, is the “the nation-state of the Jewish people” –all of them.

        Under Israeli law, there is no “Israeli nation”, only a “Jewish Nation”.

        [The Israeli Supreme Court] ruled against the 21 petitioners and refused to issue a declaratory judgment defining them as members of the Israeli nation. The court explained its decision by stating that a similar lawsuit was rejected 40 years ago. In the previous case, the court ruled that the Jewish people must not be split into two nations, a “Jewish” nation, as Jews are customary known, and another “Israeli” nation.

        According to the verdict, the founders of the State of Israel never intended for Israelis to be a nation in their own right.

        […]The court’s refusal to recognize the Israeli nation is derived from the correct assertion that a person cannot belong to two nations. Therefore, according to the court’s logic, a Jew in Israel cannot be a member of the Israeli nation because they already belong to another nation, the Jewish nation.

        See also: “Israeli Nation” vs. “Jewish State”
        by Jonathan Cook

        Uri Avnery:

        According to the official doctrine, the State of Israel cannot recognize an “Israeli” nation because it is the state of the “Jewish” nation. In other words, it belongs to the Jews of Brooklyn, Budapest and Buenos Aires, even though these consider themselves as belonging to the American, Hungarian or Argentine nations.

        Such is the ideology of Jewish nationalism.

      • adele on January 15, 2014, 12:03 pm

        hophmi proclaims:
        That’s the beauty of America; you can celebrate your HERITAGE and still feel at HOME, at least when BIGOTS are not trying to change all of that by making accusations of dual LOYALTY or calling for restrictions on FREEDOM of speech as some here do.

        Meanwhile in Zionbantustan, non-Jews are subjected to ethnocratic, theocratic, nationalistic and racist policies that try to exclude and marginalize them. But Hophmi staunchly supports the pillars of all the apartheid barriers, lest anything spoil his privilege.

      • radkelt on January 14, 2014, 11:48 pm

        Check out The New Hampshire Gazette, where the ever vigilant flag
        police’s activities are reported fortnightly.

  5. Tzombo on January 14, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Compare: U.S. condemns Iran decision to put wreath on Hezbollah leader’s grave (,0,7073389.story)

    • Walid on January 15, 2014, 2:07 am

      American officials are probably grateful to the Iranian FM for having provided them with an opportunity to bend backwards and kiss-ass to show love for Israel. Not much more than that in this this raising of a non-issue. How many times did American officials parade in kippahs in front of cameras at the holocaust museum. The Iranian FM was into the same type show business.

  6. American on January 14, 2014, 2:17 pm

    ”The issue of an Israeli flag at half-stand is bizarre”

    In this country (and most others) its bizarre to fly the flag of a foreign country on your religious property/institution to begin with.
    But we can point this out a 1000 times and they will never get it.

  7. Les on January 14, 2014, 8:32 pm

    How many American synagogues have a foreign flag on their altars? How many mosques do?

    • wondering jew on January 14, 2014, 10:33 pm

      Too many synagogues have the flags of Israel and the US on their forward platform. (my opinion). Neither flag belongs there. (Prayers for Israel and for the United States are a different matter and I don’t object to prayers for either or both, although the composition of the prayer for Israel recited in modern Orthodox synagogues needs a bit of editing.)

      There is no altar in a synagogue. The spot where the Torah is brought to for reading is called the bima, which just means platform.

      Whether mosques have a spot they call an altar, I don’t know. I would guess not, but I don’t know.

      • Walid on January 15, 2014, 1:58 am

        No altar, yonah, and no other furniture except for a small platform slightly raised above the floor called the inbar, from which the imam delivers his Friday sermon. It’s raised to allow him to be seen by all the worshipers (similarly to the pulpit and the lectern in Christian churches that are raised for the same reason). After the Friday prayer, Muslims sit on the carpeted floor to hear the sermon.

  8. American on January 14, 2014, 11:10 pm

    ToivoS says:
    ‘The separation of church and state makes it quite clear that people can pray to any symbol they wish and that includes the flags of foreign nations. ‘>>>>

    I believe you are confused—–the constitution and the seperation of church and state clause says nothing about praying to symbols…it say nothing about any religion, all it say is church and state are two different things that should not be joined.
    Obviously some of Judaism does not believe in seperation of church and state since they have made the Jewish state part of their religion.

  9. thankgodimatheist on January 14, 2014, 11:15 pm

    Trouble in the Christian Zionists’ fiefdom
    “New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line”
    ‘Figures with deep roots in America’s religious right have launched a quiet effort aimed at pushing evangelical Christians away from decades of growing loyalty to Israel and toward increased solidarity with the Palestinians.”

    btw, is it not interesting to note that the head and founder of the Christian Zionists movement is an ultra Zionist Jew?

    • American on January 14, 2014, 11:56 pm

      “New Evangelical Movement Seeks Split From Pro-Israel Line”

      Actually I have been hearing about that for a year or two now. We have had people here who think all the ‘Evangelicals’ are chris zios but they arent—Evangelical actually covers a wide range of churches and not all of them are chris zios. The numbers most people quote for chris zios of 30 million and so forth are wildly overstated because of assuming that all Evangelicals are chris zios…the major Evangelical churches arent.

    • Walid on January 15, 2014, 1:41 am

      ” Deatherage said the most eye-opening experience for many of the people he takes on Telos trips is interacting with the Palestinian Christian community.
      “The fact is that there is a church on the ground,” Deatherage said. “We imagine this conflict to be between Jews and Muslims, and so when people see that there are Christians there, and even Palestinian Evangelicals, they didn’t know that. I mean, there’s a Bible college in Bethlehem, where people talk about their faith the very same way they do, they read the same books, many of them studied in the same universities in the U.S.” ( from TGIA’s buzzfeed link)

      This could explain why Israelis are more annoyed by the Christian Palestinian presence than the Muslim one and trying hard to assimilate Christian youth into the IDF to make them disappear from being seen by Americans. The apartheid wall and highways around Bethlehem along with checkpoints and restricting the movements of Bethlehemites are part of the disappearing act.

  10. Walid on January 15, 2014, 3:21 am

    Interesting analogy on how Israel goes about its fraudulent negotiations, picked up from an article quoted on Rehmat’s blog:

    “… On the other hand, Israel is merely “conceding” to abandon one aspect of its criminal aggression: seizing all of Palestine in 1967. What is a concession for Israel is only the undoing of one illegal and unjust act, without ever addressing the crime of expelling 750,000 Palestinians from their lands during the Nakba in 1948. To put it another way, a burglar cannot enter a house, steal everything inside, and then instead of being held accountable in some way, expect negotiations with the homeowner that result in the burglar returning only some of the items, in what is described as a “concession”, while the homeowner is forced to make another kind of “concession” altogether by agreeing to allow the burglar to keep some of the stolen goods. The homeowner ends up surrendering some rightful claims to win others, whereas the burglar concedes only what he or she acquired unjustly.”

    Full article:

    The Israel-Palestine ‘peace process’ as a capitalist metaphor
    Dr Sarah Marusek
    Monday, 13 January 2014

    • Shmuel on January 15, 2014, 3:32 am

      while the homeowner is forced to make another kind of “concession” altogether by agreeing to allow the burglar to keep some of the stolen goods.

      Furthermore, the burglar insists that the owner “acknowledge” that the goods were never stolen in the first place, and are his (the burglar’s) by right — in return for an acknowledgement that what’s left of the house is the original owner’s by right too. For some reason, the “arbitrator” (how did burglary get to arbitration?) seems to find this demand eminently reasonable.

    • Sibiriak on January 15, 2014, 6:01 am

      Walid :

      Interesting analogy on how Israel goes about its fraudulent negotiation…

      Analogies can sometimes be illuminating when the basic premise of the comparison is agreed upon– in this case that Israel committed criminal aggression and theft in 1967. But then again, if everyone agreed on that premise there really wouldn’t be much need for such arguments by analogy.

      • Walid on January 15, 2014, 7:30 am

        Sibiriak, the comparison is not for the benefit of either of the concerned parties. Israel would never in a million years accept that it committed a criminal aggression as the Palestinians would never accept to simply melt away and abandon what they they feel is their right. The intro of the arbitrator into the story by Shmuel completes it.

      • Sibiriak on January 15, 2014, 7:36 am

        Walid: the comparison is not for the benefit of either of the concerned parties

        I understand that–but to whom is it a benefit? Not much, imo, to anyone who accepts the premise, or to anyone who does not accept it, or to anyone who is unsure.

Leave a Reply