The evening of Thursday, April 14th began Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Every year, for Yom Haatzmaut, our colleagues at Shalom Achshav distribute hundreds of “peace flags” to fellow Israelis who endorse the notion that their country cannot be fully free and independent as long as it has not liberated itself of the occupation and made peace with the Palestinians.
This year, for Yom Haatzmaut, we are bringing these flags and this message to Capitol Hill, distributing them to members of Congress who support our mission – and to some who don’t.
We started distributing the flags on Tuesday. The first member of the House to receive a flag was Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a friend of APN and a staunch supporter of Israeli-Palestinian peace. In the photo below, holding the flag, is Rep. Raskin’s Chief of Staff, Julie Tagen.
We respect and cherish the blue-and-white Star of David official flag of the State of Israel. We view it as a symbol of the accomplishments that a nation-state of the Jewish people is, and of the many accomplishments of Israel. But we also want to see the “Shalom” flag by its side, as an aspirational expression of the peace that Israel has not yet accomplished. The absence of peace, while the occupation lingers, denies Palestinians the national independence that Israelis enjoy, but it also denies Israelis full liberty and democracy. Because an occupying power cannot be fully democratic, egalitarian, and free.
In the future, with the help of our supporters and activists, we would like to take the Shalom flag beyond Washington and make it a household symbol of support for peace at Jewish and non-Jewish institutions and homes throughout the United States.
Vice President for Public Affairs