The burning of an Israeli flag has prompted calls for an official condemnation of the act by Democratic Party leaders.
Following the burning of an Israeli flag outside the Wells Fargo Center late on July 26, with cries of “intifada” filling the air, the Zionist Organization of America called for Democrat leaders to officially condemn the action.
At the same time, the National Jewish Democratic Council tweeted an immediate response, calling the incident “disgusting and totally reprehensible.”
“I am horrified that in American politics this is taking place today,” said Lee Bender, co-president of ZOA’s Greater Philadelphia District. “I’m especially concerned about the Democratic Party, because it is evident over the last several election cycles their support for Israel has been slipping.
“I can only hope the leaders of the DNC speak out and take whatever action is necessary to combat this and assure the pro-Israel public and Jews of our safety.”
“It’s important for the party to make sure there’s a discussion on the floor,” agreed NJDC chairman Greg Rosenbaum, who served as a vice-chair on the DNC Platform Committee. “There should be a clear denunciation of this act as an official statement by the DNC.
When the picture of the Israeli flag being burned came over social media, the NJDC tweeted: “These protesters are not only wrong, but are fundamentally anti-progressive.”
Bender pointed out that nothing of this nature occurred last week during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. In contrast, not only did the flag burnings — both American flags and an Israeli flag — occur in Philadelphia, but a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flag was seen being waved inside the arena.
“I haven’t heard anybody condemn that,” Bender said. “On one hand, you have a PLO flag inside, and outside they’re burning the Israeli flag. It’s truly disturbing.
“Unfortunately it’s not surprising with the Democrats until they start putting their foot down. It’s against the principles this party claims to stand for — of tolerance. This kind of action clearly goes against an ally of the United States. This has to be forcefully be rooted out.”
Bender said the negative propaganda inferred by a flag burning is not only harmful, but inaccurate.
“The message is saying the U.S. is supporting an oppressive, aggressive government that victimizes Palestinian Arabs, which is clearly not true,” he said. “But when you’re talking anti-Zionism, you’re talking anti-Semitism. It’s crossing the line.”
However, it’s not breaking the law. According to a 1989 ruling by the Supreme Court, flag burning is considered “protected free speech.”
That doesn’t make it right, according to Nancy Baron-Baer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“We understand the Supreme Court made it constitutional to burn a flag,”she said. “So, it’s legal. It’s protected free speech, but hate speech, for sure.
“The results of burning a flag can be considered an incitement to imminent violence in certain circumstances. We don’t believe this is one of them.”
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