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Massachusetts town approves permit to fly Palestinian flag on public flagpole

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North Andover, Massachusetts, officials approved a permit Monday, allowing a Palestinian flag to be flown on the North Andover Town Common, according to reports.

Boston 25 News reported that the black, white, red and green flag was raised Tuesday morning and will remain in place until Dec. 7.

Residents attended a board meeting Monday night that had to be rescheduled because of reported "threats of litigation as well as public safety concerns," both in favor and opposition of the flag being put on display on town property.

North Andover, Mass., officials approved an application to fly a Palestinian flag on the Town Common until Dec. 7. (Google Maps)

One resident, Salma Boulal, attended the meeting and said if Israel gets to fly its flag in the North Andover common, Palestinians deserve the same right, the news station reported.

To ensure order was upheld, police were present at the meeting in large numbers.

Town Manager Melissa Rodrigues reportedly said an application to fly the flag was submitted to the town Oct. 16, about six hours before town officials updated its policy on flying flags.

Prior to the change, the policy allowed a town resident to apply to fly a flag on the town’s flagpole.

Rodrigues said the application resulted in the flagpole being considered for a public forum, though the subject of a flag cannot be considered when reviewing an application presented under the old policy.

Participants of a solidarity rally for Israel hold Israel's flag.  (Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/Picture Alliance via Getty Images/File)

Under the new policy, the use of the flagpole is limited to statements of governmental speech and no other culture-related flags will be permitted to fly there, which goes along with a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shurtleff v. Boston.

"According to the decision in the Shurtleff case, the Town may not prohibit a flag to be flown based on its content, its meaning or its message," Rodrigues wrote. "This limitation on the Select Board’s discretion indicates that denial of a resident’s flag application under the prior policy places the Town in jeopardy of legal action."

The news station also reported that the town has allowed an Israeli flag to fly in the Town Common since early October, when Hamas launched an attack on Israel.

Marc Freedman, president of the Congregation Ahavat Olam, which means everlasting love in English, told Fox News Digital he was disgusted and horrified by the town’s decision to raise the Palestinian flag.

He also said doing what’s right is more important than any cost, explaining that had the town not allowed the flag to be raised, it could have faced litigation.

"The town was a coward," Freedman said. "I don’t believe the flag should have been raised because today it is a symbol of hatred and antisemitism."

The 57-year-old resident has lived in North Andover for 25 years, though Monday night was the first time he attended a Town Select Board meeting. 

He said the room on Monday was packed with about 600 people, and the select board gave anyone who wanted to speak 3 minutes, though after 60 minutes the public commentary would need to be closed.

Freedman said there were two microphones setup, and those in favor of flying the Palestinian flag lined up at one, while those opposed lined up at the other. Some people needed to be removed from the room, he said, and at times people chanted things like "from the river to the sea."

Ultimately, the board voted to allow the Palestinian flag to fly, though some members, according to Freedman, admitted they may not agree with the approval but must give the approval based on advice from counsel.

North Andover isn't the only Massachusetts town to OK raising the Palestinian flag in the public square. Last week, the state's second-largest city, Worcester, flew the flag in front of City Hall, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

And like in North Andover, the Israeli flag had a week-long run in Worcester last month after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. 


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