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Israeli flag

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Israeli flag


Israel
Use National flag
Proportion 8:11
Adopted October 28, 1948
Design Blue Star of David between two horizontal blue stripes on a white field.
Variant flag of Israel
Use Civil ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted 1948
Design Navy blue flag with a white vertically elongated oval set near the hoist containing a vertically elongated blue Star of David.
Variant flag of Israel
Use Naval ensign
Proportion 2:3
Adopted 1948
Design Navy blue flag with a white triangle at hoist and blue Star of David in it.
Variant flag of Israel
Use Israeli Air Force flag
Proportion 2:3
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 flag of Israel (Hebrew: דגל ישראל Degel Yisrael, Arabic: علم إسرائيل 'Alam Isra'īl) was adopted on October 28, 1948, five months after the country's establishment. It depicts a blue hexagram on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes.

The blue colour is mandated only as "dark sky-blue",[1] 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.[2] The flag was designed for the Zionist Movement in 1891. The basic design recalls the Ashkenazi Tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl, which is white with blue stripes. The symbol in the centre represents the Magen David ("Star of David"), a Jewish symbol dating from late medieval Prague, which was adopted by the First Zionist Congress in 1897.[1]

In 2007, an Israeli flag measuring 660 by 100 metres and weighing 5.2 tonnes was unfurled near the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada, breaking the world record for the largest flag.[3]

Origin of the flag

The blue stripes are intended to symbolize the stripes on a tallit, the traditional Jewish prayer shawl. The portrayal of a Star of David on the flag of the State of Israel is a widely-acknowledged symbol of Judaism.

The Israelites used a blue coloured dye called tekhelet; this dye may have been made from the marine snail Murex trunculus.[4] 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.[5] The idea that the blue and white colours were the national colour of the Jewish people was voiced early on by Ludwig August Frankl (1810–1894); an Austrian Jewish poet. In his poem, "Judah's Colours", he writes:

When sublime feelings his heart fill, he is mantled in the colors of his country. He stands in prayer, wrapped in a sparkling robe of white.

The hems of the white robe are crowned with broad stripes of blue; Like the robe of the High Priest, adorned with bands of blue threads.

These are the colours of the beloved country, blue and white are the colours of Judah; White is the radiance of the priesthood, and blue, the splendors of the firmament.[6]

In 1885 the agricultural village of Rishon LeZion used a blue and white flag to mark its third anniversary. 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 July 24, 1891, at the dedication of Zion Hall of the B’nai Zion Educational Society in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. 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” in gilt letters.

David Wolffsohn (1856–1914), a businessman prominent in the early Zionist movement, was aware that the nascent Zionist movement had no official flag, and that the design proposed by Theodor Herzl was gaining no significant support. He writes:

At the behest of our leader Herzl, I came to Basle to make preparations for the Zionist Congress. Among many other problems that occupied me then was one that contained something of the essence of the Jewish problem. 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.

While this flag emphasizes Jewish religious symbols, Theodor Herzl wanted the flag to have more universal symbols: 7 golden stars symbolizing the 7-hour working quota of the enlightened state-to-be, which would have advanced socialist legislations.[7]

In 1897, the First United Kingdom in 1948.

A flag with blue and white stripes and a Magen David in the center flew with those of other nationalities from one of the buildings at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904.[8] It flew there in relation to large meetings of Zionists. That expo was the World's Fair hosting the 1904 Summer Olympics.

Interpretation of colours

Scheme Textile color
White Symbol of light, honesty, innocence and peace.
Blue It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.

Criticism by Israeli Arabs

Some Israeli Arab politicians, as well as the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel have requested a re-evaluation of the Israeli flag, arguing that the Star of David at the flag's center is an exclusively Jewish symbol.[9]


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, and Christian symbols are on the flags of Denmark, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Israel is also the only country with a Jewish religious symbol on its flag.

In addition, the Star of David was not historically an exclusively Jewish symbol. It appeared on some Muslim coins and the flags of the Karamanid and Jandarid Turkish Muslim dynasties, as well as in Christian architecture such as the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence.

Orthodox Jewish opposition

See also: Haredim and Zionism

Rabbi Moses Feinstein called the Israel flag "a foolish and meaningless object" and discouraged its display in synagogues.[10] Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadia Yosef, forbade the flying of the Israeli flag in synagogues. The Chazon Ish went further to forbid entry into a synagogue decorated with an Israeli flag even if there is no other synagogue in the area.[11]

"Nile to Euphrates" controversy

It has been alleged by some groups that the blue stripes on the Israeli flag actually represent the rivers Nile and Euphrates as the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael, the land promised to the Jews by God.[12] Those making this allegation insist that the flag "secretly" represents the desire of Jews to conquer all of the land between the Nile and Euphrates rivers, which would involve conquering and ruling over much of Egypt, all of Jordan, and some of Syria and Iraq. Yasser Arafat, Iran and Hamas also made the allegation,[13] and repeatedly tied this notion to the stripes on the Israeli flag.[14][15]

Both Zionist and anti-Zionist authors have debunked the claim that the stripes on the flag represent territorial ambitions. Daniel Pipes notes "In fact, the blue lines derive from the design on the traditional Jewish prayer shawl",[16] and Danny Rubinstein points out that "...Arafat... added, in interviews that he gave in the past, that the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Nile and the Euphrates... No Israeli, even those who demonstrate understanding for Palestinian distress, will accept the... nonsense about the blue stripes on the flag, which was designed according to the colours of the traditional tallit (prayer shawl)..."[15] Persistent critic of Israel and Zionism Israel Shahak is equally explicit. In his The Zionist Plan for the Middle East he states

A good example is the very persistent belief in the non-existent writing on the wall of the Knesset of the Biblical verse about the Nile and the Euphrates. Another example is the persistent, and completely false declarations, which were made by some of the most important Arab leaders, that the two blue stripes of the Israeli flag symbolize the Nile and the Euphrates, while in fact they are taken from the stripes of the Jewish praying shawl (Talit).

Saqr Abu Fakhr, an Arab writer, has also spoken out against this idea. He writes that the "Nile to Euphrates" claim regarding the flag is one of seven popular misconceptions and/or myths about Jews which, despite being unfounded and having abundant evidence refuting them, continue to circulate in the Arab world.[17]

Nevertheless, the Hamas covenant states "After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates," and as recently as January 29, 2006, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar issued a demand for Israel to change its flag, citing the "Nile to Euphrates" argument.[18]

Reference in the Nuremberg Laws

Paragraph 4 in "The Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour", part of the infamous Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935, states that 1. "Jews are forbidden to display the Reich and national flag or the [German] national colours. 2. On the other hand, they are permitted to display the Jewish colours. The exercise of this right is protected by the State." Paragraph 5.3 described the penalty for infringing "1": up to one year's imprisonment plus fine, or one of these. The "Jewish colours" referred to in this article were blue and white.[19]

Famous Israeli Flags

  • The Israeli Flag that stayed flying throughout the siege of Fort Budapest during the Yom Kippur War, which is currently preserved in the Israeli Armored Corps memorial at Latrun. Fort Budapest was the only strongpoint along the vaunted Bar-Lev Line to remain in Israeli hands during the war.


  • The "Ink Flag" of 1948, which was raised during the War of Independence near present-day Eilat. This homemade flag's raising on a pole by several Israeli soldiers was immortalized in a photograph that has been compared with the famous photograph of the United States Flag being raised on the island of Iwo Jima in 1944. Like the latter photograph, the Ink Flag raising has also been reproduced as a memorial.
  • The 2007 World Record Flag, which was unveiled at an airfield near the historic mountain fortress of Masada. The flag, manufactured in the Philippines, measured 660 x 100 metres (2,165 x 330 feet) and weighed 5.2 metric tonnes, breaking the previous record, measured and verified by representatives for the Guinness Book of Records. It was made by Filipino entrepreneur and Evangelical Christian Grace Galindez-Gupana as a religious token and diplomatic gesture of support for Israel.

See also

Israel portal
Heraldry portal

References

External links

  • Jewish Virtual Library)

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