|Flag of Zion|
|Use||National flag |
|Adopted||1897 (by the Zionist movement) |
28 October 1948 (State of Israel)
|Design||A blue Star of David between two horizontal blue stripes on a white field.|
|Use||Civil ensign |
|Design||Navy blue flag with a white vertically elongated oval set near the hoist containing a vertically elongated blue Star of David.|
|Use||Naval ensign |
|Design||Navy blue flag with a white triangle at hoist and blue Star of David in it.|
|Use||Israeli Air Force flag |
|Design||Light blue flag with thin white stripes with dark blue borders near the top and bottom, displaying an air force roundel in the center.|
The national flag of the State of Israel (Hebrew: דגל ישראל Degel Yīsraʾel; Arabic: علم إسرائيل ʿAlam Israʾīl) was adopted on 28 October 1948, five months after the establishment of the state. It depicts a blue hexagram on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes. The Israeli flag legislation states that the official measurements are 160 × 220 cm. Therefore, the official proportions are 8:11. Variants can be found at a wide range of proportions, with 2:3 being common.
The blue colour is described as "dark sky-blue", and varies from flag to flag, ranging from a hue of pure blue, sometimes shaded almost as dark as navy blue, to hues about 75% toward pure cyan and shades as light as very light blue. An early version of the flag was displayed in 1885 at a procession marking the third anniversary of Rishon LeZion. A similar version was designed for the Zionist Movement in 1891. The basic design recalls the Tallit (טַלִּית), the Jewish prayer shawl, which is white with black or blue stripes. The symbol in the center represents the Star of David (Magen David, מָגֵן דָּוִד), a Jewish symbol dating from late medieval Prague, which was adopted by the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
In the Middle Ages, mystical powers were attributed to the pentagram and hexagram, which were used in talismans against evil spirits. Both were called the "Seal of Solomon," but eventually the name became exclusive to the pentagram, while the hexagram became known as a "Magen David," or "Shield of David." Later the star began to appear in Jewish art. In 1648, Ferdinand II permitted the Jews of Prague to fly a "Jewish flag" over their synagogue. This flag was red with a yellow Magen David in the middle.
The idea that the blue and white colours were the national colour of the Jewish people was voiced early on by Ludwig August von Frankl (1810–94), an Austrian Jewish poet. In his poem, "Judah's Colours", he writes:
Anlegt er, wenn ihn Andacht füllt
He puts on, when prayer fills him,
In 1885, the agricultural village of Rishon LeZion used a blue and white flag incorporating a blue Star of David, designed by Israel Belkind and Fanny Abramovitch, in a procession marking its third anniversary. In 1891, Michael Halperin, one of the founders of the agricultural village Nachalat Reuven flew a similar blue and white flag with a blue hexagram and the text "נס ציונה" (Nes Ziona, "a banner for Zion": a reference to Jeremiah 4:6, later adopted as the modern name of the city). A blue and white flag, with a Star of David and the Hebrew word "Maccabee", was used in 1891 by the Bnai Zion Educational Society. Jacob Baruch Askowith (1844–1908) and his son Charles Askowith designed the "flag of Judah," which was displayed on 24 July 1891, at the dedication of Zion Hall of the B'nai Zion Educational Society in Boston, Massachusetts. Based on the traditional tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, that flag was white with narrow blue stripes near the edges and bore in the center the ancient six-pointed Shield of David with the word "Maccabee" painted in blue Hebrew letters.
In Theodor Herzl's 1896 Der Judenstaat, he stated: "We have no flag, and we need one. If we desire to lead many men, we must raise a symbol above their heads. I would suggest a white flag, with seven golden stars. The white field symbolizes our pure new life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our working-day. For we shall march into the Promised Land carrying the badge of honour." Aware that the nascent Zionist movement had no official flag, David Wolffsohn (1856–1914), a prominent Zionist, felt that the design proposed by Herzl was not gaining significant support. Herzl's original proposal however was for a flag completely devoid of any traditional Jewish symbolism: seven golden stars was representing the 7-hour workday of the enlightened state-to-be, which would have advanced socialist legislations. In preparing for the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, Wolffsohn wrote: "What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag—and it is blue and white. The talith (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Talith from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being." Morris Harris, a member of New York Hovevei Zion, used his awning shop to design a suitable banner and decorations for the reception, and his mother Lena Harris sewed the flag. The flag was made with two blue stripes and a large blue Star of David in the center, the colours blue and white chosen from the design of the tallit. The flag was ten feet by six feet—in the same proportions as the flag of the United States—and became known as the Flag of Zion. It was accepted as the official Zionist flag at the Second Zionist Congress held in Switzerland in 1898[failed verification] and was flown with those of other nationalities at the World's Fair hosting the 1904 Summer Olympics from one of the buildings at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition where large Zionist meetings were taking place. The racial Nuremberg Laws enacted by Nazi Germany in 1935 referenced the Zionist flag and stated that the Jews were forbidden to display the Reich and national flag or the German national colours but were permitted to display the "Jewish colours."
In May 1948, the Provisional State Council asked the Israeli public to submit proposals for a flag and they received 164 entries. Initially the council had wished to abandon the traditional design of the Zionist flag and create something completely different in order to prevent Jews around the world being charged with dual loyalty when displaying the Zionist flag which could create the impression they are flying the flag of a foreign country. On October 14, 1948, after Zionist representatives from around the world allayed the concerns of their Israeli colleagues, the flag of the Zionist Organisation was adopted as the official flag of the State of Israel.
Main article: Blue in Judaism
|White||Chesed (Divine Benevolence)|
|Blue||It symbolizes God's Glory, purity and Gevurah (God's severity)|
The blue stripes are intended to symbolize the stripes on a tallit, the traditional Jewish prayer shawl. The Star of David is a widely acknowledged symbol of the Jewish people and of Judaism. In Judaism, the colour blue symbolises God's glory, purity and gevurah (God's severity) (See: Blue in Judaism). The White field represents Chesed (Divine Benevolence)
The Israelites used a blue coloured dye called tekhelet; this dye may have been made from the marine snail Murex trunculus. This dye was very important in both Jewish and non-Jewish cultures of this time, and was used by royalty and the upper class in dyeing their clothing, sheets, curtains, etc. (The dye from a related snail can be processed to form Tyrian purple called argaman.)
In the Bible, the Israelites are commanded to have one of the threads of their tassels (tzitzit) dyed with tekhelet; "so that they may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them (Num 15:39)." Tekhelet corresponds to the colour of the divine revelation (Midrash Numbers Rabbah xv.). Sometime near the end of the Talmudic era (500–600 CE) the industry that produced this dye collapsed. It became more rare; over time, the Jewish community lost the tradition of which species of shellfish produced this dye. Since Jews were then unable to fulfil this commandment, they have since left their tzitzit (tallit strings) white. However, in remembrance of the commandment to use the tekhelet dye, it became common for Jews to have blue or purple stripes woven into the cloth of their tallit.
Israeli Arab criticism has been raised by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel which claims that Israel's national symbols, including its flag, constitute an official bias towards the Jewish majority which reinforces the inequality between Arabs and Jews in Israel. However, many other nations have religiously exclusive symbols on their flags as well. For example, Muslim symbols are on the flags of Algeria, Turkey, and Pakistan among others, while Christian symbols are on the flags of the Nordic countries, Greece, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Based on the boundaries of the Promised Land given in the Book of Genesis, Palestinians including Yasser Arafat and Hamas have claimed that the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Nile and Euphrates rivers and allege that Israel desires to eventually seize all the land in between. The Hamas Covenant states "After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates," and in 2006, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar issued a demand for Israel to change its flag, citing the "Nile to Euphrates" issue. Responding to these claims, Arab writer Saqr Abu Fakhr wrote that the "Nile to Euphrates" claim is a popular misconception about Jews which, despite being unfounded and having abundant evidence refuting them, continues to circulate in the Arab world.
Criticism from strictly Orthodox Jews stems back to their opposition of early Zionism when some went as far as banning the Star of David, originally a religious symbol, which had become "defiled" after being adopted by the World Zionist Organization. In a similar vein, contemporary leaders such as Rabbi Moses Feinstein called the Israeli flag "a foolish and meaningless object" discouraging its display in synagogues, while the Chazon Ish wrote that praying in a synagogue decorated with an Israeli flag should be avoided even if there was no other synagogue in the area. The former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadia Yosef, also forbade the flying of the Israeli flag in synagogues, calling it "a reminder of the acts of the evil-doers" and Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum referred to the flag as the "flag of heresy" and viewed it as an object of idol worship. Despite the legal requirement (since 1997) for all government-funded schools to fly the Israeli flag, Haredi Jews generally refrain from displaying the flag at all, although in a rare symbolic gesture in gratitude to state funding, the Ponevezh Yeshiva raise the flag once a year on Independence Day. Some fringe groups who are theologically opposed to renewed Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land resort to burning it on Independence Day. In 2019, a kosher sandwich shop in Lakewood Township, New Jersey caused controversy when it hung an Israeli flag on Israel's Independence Day.
Moshe Sharett argued on behalf of the government that the proposed flag for the new state must be distinct from the Zionist flag. He explained that otherwise it would embarrass Diaspora Jews who "fly the flag of the world Jewish people – the Zionist flag" but who, understandably enough, would not want to fly the flag of the State of Israel.
Perhaps, the most prominent Sephardic legal authority, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of Jerusalem, upholds Rabbi Feinstein's verdict and, in his comment, specifies that "those who chose this flag as a symbol of the State were evil-doers." Emphasizing that removing the flag, "a vain and useless object," from the synagogue should be done in harmony and peace, he recommends "uprooting all related to the flag so that it should not constitute a reminder of the acts of the evil-doers."
Note 31: This display of flags stands in sharp contrast with the negative attitude of Israeli Haredim toward the Israeli flag, which consequently is never displayed on Israeli Haredi homes or businesses.
In contrast to other Haredi leaders of the time, he also turned to government sources to further his aims. He was therefore meticulous in making sure that the Israeli flag would be raised above the Yeshiva each Independence Day, a symbol of the modus vivendi he had reached with the Israeli government.
Many haredim or ultra-orthodox Jews believe that the state of Israel should not be considered legitimate until the messiah manifests himself. Hence, some anti-Zionist haredi factions practice the burning of the Israeli flag on Independence Day