A Palestine advocacy group condemned Monday the removal of a Palestinian flag from a town in New York State, in what it says is part of a broader suppression of any recognition of Palestine.
The flag was removed from a major shopping corridor in Yonkers, NY earlier this month, after at least one public complaint. The flag was part of a display that included dozens of international flags, including the Israeli flag.
“At first glance, this incident is typical of the ‘Palestine exception to free speech.’ It exactly fits the pattern we’ve documented throughout the country,” Radhika Sainath, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal (PL) told teleSUR.
Palestine Legal provides legal aid to Palestine solidarity activists in the United States, and has warned of a growing campaign by pro-Israel groups to shut down discussion of Palestinian rights.
“When people express support for Palestine, or even acknowledge its existence, Israel advocates complain and our civic institutions are quick to respond by shutting down (free) speech,” Sainath said.
The flag was singled out by Yonkers residents who allegedly claimed Palestine is an enemy of the United States, according to one local reporter.
“Palestine is certainly not a friend of the United States,” columnist Eric Schoen told local news outlet lohud.com.
“A couple of people who brought it to my attention were quite upset,” Schoen said.
The business group that oversees the shopping corridor, the South Broadway Business Improvement District, has maintained the flag was taken down as it didn’t represent a sovereign state.
However, the corridor also boasts the flag of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.
Palestine Legal has argued the flag’s removal mirrors similar incidents nationwide.
“Earlier this year, Lincolnwood, Illinois canceled its annual diversity month over the inclusion of a Palestinian flag in the celebration,” Palestine Legal said in a statement to teleSUR.
As far back as 2013, another incident allegedly occurred at a Texas high school, when according to Palestine Legal, “School administrators told Palestinian student Malak Abdallahi she could not carry her flag during a during a traditional ceremony where students carry their nation’s flag.”
“She later won the right to carry the flag,” they noted.
Palestine Legal also recently published a report documenting what it concluded is a nationwide campaign to suppress Palestinian rights advocacy on university campuses.
In an interview with teleSUR ahead of the report’s release, Palestine Legal Director Dima Khalidi warned that Palestine solidarity activists can face “substantial” blowback from institutions and student groups for their advocacy.
“It can harm their reputation, it can harm their employment prospects, it can lead to bullying, racial attacks and even law enforcement scrutiny,” Khalidi said.
This content was originally published by teleSUR.