Rashida Tlaib boldly raises Palestinian flag in front of her congressional office
On Wednesday, a Palestinian flag was raised at the Rayburn House Office building by Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian Muslim woman member of the US Congress.
"Palestinians may be banned from flying their flag under an apartheid government, but we can still proudly do it at my office," Tlaib wrote on Twitter. "I'm proud to be a Palestinian American and I want the Palestinian people to know that not all Americans support apartheid. No one can erase our existence."
Her move comes amid a recent Israeli government ban on Palestinian flags, which has been met with various forms of resistance by artists and activists. Earlier this month, far-right ultranationalist Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir ordered Palestinian flags taken down in public places, describing them as a symbol for 'terrorists'.
Tlaib's move also appears to be a response to US policy toward Israel, which has come under increased scrutiny with the recent election of the far-right Israeli government, with leaders who have openly made disparaging remarks about women, the LGBTQ+ community and Palestinians. The US seems to be taking a "wait and see" policy toward Israel's new xenophobic and extremist government, to the dismay of many, particularly those from marginalised communities.
Palestinians may be banned from flying their flag under an apartheid government, but we can still proudly do it at my office. I’m proud to be a Palestinian American and I want the Palestinian people to know that not all Americans support apartheid. No one can erase our existence. pic.twitter.com/vuW5ciLo1k— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) January 25, 2023
It didn't take long for Tlaib's photo of her flag to generate strong reactions from both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide. Many Israelis and supporters of Israel suggested that Israeli flags are more restricted than Palestinian ones in the occupied territories.
Florian Seroussi, an investor, tweeted at Tlaib, "Israeli and American flags are being burnt in Gaza day in and day out. What have you said about it during all those years? Suddenly a flag means something to you?"
Many Arabs and Palestinian allies around the world and in the US tweeted their solidarity at Tlaib, with some sharing their own Palestinian flags in front of their homes and in emojis in their tweets.
Mohammed Abdullah, a student in Gaza tweeted, "Thank you very much for your continued support for the Palestinian cause. We are proud of you." This was followed by emojis of Palestinian flags.
Sharing a picture of the Palestinian flag in front of his house, Randall Heyn-Lamb, a nurse in California, tweeted, "The flag of Palestine waves in solidarity from our home in @RepJudyChu's district."
Brian Merlen, a former congressional candidate from Connecticut, tweeted at her, "I wish our government would do more to help the Palestinian people. My relatives ran guns against the blockades during its creation. I get that we lost half my family to WW2 including horrible concentration camp deaths, but it never made sense to recreate such horrors on others."
Craig Colfelt, an actor, tweeted at Tlaib, "Do you have suggestions about what can we do as Americans in practical terms to help the Israeli left, who have been taking to the streets opposing their current repressive government? If the American and Israeli left worked together more closely, the situation might be better."
Tlaib is not the first congress member to put a flag (in addition to the US and representative's state flag) outside her office. Several members have the rainbow pride flag in front of their doors.
In 2021, former Congresswoman Marie Newman, to honour her trans daughter, placed a trans flag in front of her office after her neighbour, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, made anti-trans comments. Also in 2021, an incoming Republican congressman, whose office was down the hall from Tlaib's, said he would put an Israeli flag in front of her door, which Tlaib dismissed as a publicity stunt.