Israeli flags not welcomed by Jewish community

Over the past few weeks and months much has been written about the Israeli and Palestinian flags now flying all over Belfast.

This is a recent phenomenon, and one which greatly concerns myself – as a member of the Jewish community in Belfast – and others.

Far from indicating any sympathy with Israel, the Israeli flag has simply been erected by loyalists in response to republicans erecting the Palestinian flag. This newly-discovered sympathy is in direct contrast to loyalist paramilitary attitudes towards Jewish people in the past.

I would like to put on the record that many people in the Jewish community in Belfast would much rather that loyalists did not appropriate symbolism in this way. As a member of the Alliance Party, I do not share the narrow political outlook of loyalism, and in particular, of the unionist terrorists who drape the Israeli flag from lampposts.

In other words, the vast majority of members of the Jewish community have absolutely no problems with their nationalist or republican neighbours, and do not want to be associated with those who have hijacked the Israeli flag.

While it may have provided some amusement at the start, the Jewish community here is aware of the links between certain loyalist terrorist groups and far right organisations, such as the BNP and National Front, over the years. These groups are anti-Semitic, and for the UDA or whoever to suddenly appear to be in sympathy with Israel is sickening hypocrisy.

I believe that some members of the Palestinian community here are concerned that the association of their flag with republicanism could in fact present a danger to them, should loyalist paramilitaries decide to add to their list of targets. Likewise, members of the Jewish community have no desire to be republican targets.

If there is any lesson from Israel for loyalist paramilitaries who are flying our flag, it is that the vast majority of Jewish people all over the world want to see an end to all forms of terrorism. And that includes an end to the current loyalist campaign of intimidation and attacks on my fellow Alliance Party members.


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