The flag of Israel (: דגל ישראל Degel Yisra'el; : علم إسرائيل ʿAlam Israʼīl) was adopted on 28 October 1948, five months after the establishment of the . It depicts a blue on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes. The Israeli flag legislation states that the official measurements are 160 × 220 cm. Therefore, the official proportions are 8:11. Variants can be found at a wide range of proportions, with 2:3 being common.
The colour is described as "dark sky-blue", and varies from flag to flag, ranging from a of pure blue, sometimes almost as dark as , to hues about 75% toward pure and shades as light as very light blue. The flag was designed for the in 1891. The basic design recalls the (טַלִּית), the Jewish prayer shawl, which is white with black or blue stripes. The symbol in the center represents the (Magen David, מָגֵן דָּוִד), a Jewish symbol dating from late medieval , which was adopted by the in 1897.
In 2007, an Israeli flag measuring 660 m × 100 m (2,170 ft × 330 ft) and weighing 5.2 tonnes (5.7 short tons) was unfurled near the ancient Jewish fortress of , breaking the for the largest flag.
Origin of the flag
The blue stripes are intended to symbolize the stripes on a , the traditional shawl. The portrayal of a Star of David on the flag of the State of Israel is a widely acknowledged symbol of the Jewish people and of Judaism.
The used a coloured called ; this dye may have been made from the . This dye was very important in both Jewish and non-Jewish cultures of this time, and was used by royalty and the in dyeing their clothing, sheets, curtains, etc. (The dye from a related snail can be processed to form called argaman.)
In the Bible, the Israelites are commanded to have one of the threads of their tassels (tzitzit) dyed with tekhelet; "so that they may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them ()." Tekhelet corresponds to the colour of the divine revelation ( Numbers Rabbah xv.). Sometime near the end of the Talmudic era (500–600 CE) the industry that produced this dye collapsed. It became more rare; over time, the Jewish community lost the tradition of which species of shellfish produced this dye. Since Jews were then unable to fulfil this commandment, they have since left their tzitzit (tallit strings) white. However, in remembrance of the commandment to use the tekhelet dye, it became common for Jews to have blue or purple stripes woven into the cloth of their tallit.
The idea that the blue and white colours were the of the Jewish people was voiced early on by (1810–94), an Austrian Jewish poet. In his poem, "Judah's Colours", he writes:
Anlegt er, wenn ihn Andacht füllt
Die Farben seines Landes;
Da steht er beim Gebet verhüllt,
Weiß schimmernden Gewandes.
Den Rand des weißen Mantels breit
Durchziehen blaue Streifen,
Sowie des Hohenpriesters Kleid
Die blauen Fädenschleifen.
Die Farben sind's des theuren Lands,
Weißblau sind Juda's Grenzen:
Weiß ist der priesterliche Glanz,
Und blau des Himmels Glänzen.
He puts on, when prayer fills him,
The colours of his country.
There stands he, wrapped in prayer,
In a sparkling robe of white.
The hems of the white robe
Are crowned with broad stripes of blue;
Like the High Priest's robe,
The blue bands.
These are the colours of the beloved country:
Blue and white are Judah's borders;
White is the priestly radiance,
And blue, the shining of the firmament.
In 1885, the agricultural village of used a blue and white flag designed by and Fanny Abramovitch in a procession marking its third anniversary. In 1891, Michael Halperin, one of the founders of the agricultural village Nachalat Reuven flew a similar blue and white flag with a blue hexagram and the text "נס ציונה" (, "a banner for Zion": a reference to , later adopted as the modern name of the city). A blue and white flag, with a Star of David and the Hebrew word "", was used in 1891 by the . Jacob Baruch Askowith (1844–1908) and his son Charles Askowith designed the "flag of Judah," which was displayed on 24 July 1891, at the dedication of Zion Hall of the B'nai Zion Educational Society in , Massachusetts. Based on the traditional tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl, that flag was white with narrow blue stripes near the edges and bore in the center the ancient six-pointed Shield of David with the word "Maccabee" painted in blue Hebrew letters.Herzl's proposed flag, as sketched in his diaries. Although he drew a , he did not describe it as such.
In Herzl's 1896 , he stated:
Wir haben keine Fahne. Wir brauchen eine. Wenn man viele Menschen führen will, muss man ein Symbol über ihre Häupter erheben. Ich denke mir eine weisse Fahne, mit sieben goldenen Sternen. Das weisse Feld bedeutet das neue, reine Leben; die Sterne sind die sieben goldenen Stunden unseres Arbeitstages. Denn im Zeichen der Arbeit gehen die Juden in das neue Land.
We have no flag, and we need one. If we desire to lead many men, we must raise a symbol above their heads. I would suggest a white flag, with seven golden stars. The white field symbolizes our pure new life; the stars are the seven golden hours of our working-day. For we shall march into the Promised Land carrying the badge of honor.
(1856–1914), a businessman prominent in the early Zionist movement, was aware that the nascent Zionist movement had no official flag, and that the design proposed by was gaining no significant support, wrote:Modern photo showing the flag of Israel
At the behest of our leader Herzl, I came to Basle to make preparations for the Zionist Congress. Among many other problems that occupied me then was one that contained something of the essence of the Jewish problem. What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag—and it is blue and white. The talith (prayer shawl) with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Talith from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being.
While this flag emphasizes , wanted the flag to have more universal symbols: 7 golden stars symbolizing the 7-hour working quota of the enlightened state-to-be, which would have advanced socialist legislations.
In 1897, the was held in , , to consider re-establishing a homeland for Jews in . , a member of New York Hovevei Zion, used his awning shop to design a suitable banner and decorations for the reception, and his mother Lena Harris sewed the flag. The flag was made with two blue stripes and a large blue Star of David in the center, the colours blue and white chosen from the design of the tallit. The flag was ten feet by six feet—in the same proportions as the —and became known as the Flag of Zion. It was accepted as the official Zionist flag at the Second Zionist Congress held in Switzerland in 1898, and the State of Israel later adopted the design as the official flag, upon declaration of Israel as an independent state in 1948.
A flag with blue and white stripes and a in the centre flew with those of other nationalities from one of the buildings at the of 1904. It flew there in relation to large meetings of . That expo was the hosting the 1904 Summer Olympics.
Colours scheme Blue White 0/56/184 255/255/255 #0038b8 #FFFFFF 100/70/0/28 0/0/0/0
Interpretation of colours
Main article:Scheme Textile color White Chesed (Divine Benevolence) Blue It symbolizes God's Glory, purity and Gevurah (God's severity)
From Israeli Arabs
Some politicians, as well as the have requested a re-evaluation of the Israeli flag, arguing that the at the flag's centre is an exclusively Jewish symbol.Flag of the medieval Turkish Karamanid Dynasty
However, many other nations have on their flags as well. For example, Muslim symbols are on the flags of , , and among others, while Christian symbols are on the flags of the , , and the .
In addition, the Star of David (or Shield of David) was not historically an exclusively Jewish symbol. It was used as an architectural motif inconsistently in ancient synagogues, and it notably appears on the cover page of the . It became an important Jewish symbol in the early Middle Ages. In medieval times, this star was also an Islamic symbol known as the Seal of Solomon (Suleiman) and was also extremely popular among the Anatolian beyliks. States known to use the seal on their flags were the Karamanids and Jandarids. The seal was also used by Ottomans in their mosque decorations, coins and personal flags of pashas, including that of Hayreddin Barbarossa, as well as in Christian architecture such as the .
From Ultra-Orthodox Jews
The in particular were vociferous in their opposition to early Zionism and often protested against the Zionists. They even went as far as banning the , originally a religious symbol appearing only in the synagogue, which had now become "defiled" by the Zionists. Rabbi called the Israeli flag "a foolish and meaningless object" and discouraged its display in synagogues. The wrote that praying in a synagogue decorated with an Israeli flag should be avoided even if there was no other synagogue in the area. Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, , also forbade the flying of the Israeli flag in synagogues, calling it "a reminder of the acts of the evil-doers." Rabbi referred to the flag as the "flag of heresy" and viewed it as an object of idol worship. Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel never display the Israeli flag and there are some fringe groups who resort to burning it on Israel’s independence day.
"Nile to Euphrates" myth
Main article:A traditional with the blue stripes
It is a popular myth in the Muslim world that the blue stripes on the Israeli flag actually represent the rivers and as the boundaries of , the land to the by according to the Bible. Those making this allegation insist that the flag "secretly" represents the desire of Jews to conquer all of the land between the Nile and Euphrates rivers, which would involve conquering and ruling over much of Egypt, all of Jordan and Lebanon, most of Syria, and part of Iraq. , and also made the allegation, and repeatedly tied this notion to the stripes on the Israeli flag.
Both and authors have debunked the claim that the stripes on the flag represent territorial ambitions. notes "In fact, the blue lines derive from the design on the traditional Jewish prayer shawl", and points out that "Arafat ... added, in interviews that he gave in the past, that the two blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the Nile and the Euphrates .... No Israeli, even those who demonstrate understanding for Palestinian distress, will accept the ... nonsense about the blue stripes on the flag, which was designed according to the colours of the traditional tallit (prayer shawl)".Israel and Zionism critic states in his The Zionist Plan for the Middle East he states:
...the persistent, and completely false declarations, which were made by some of the most important Arab leaders, that the two blue stripes of the Israeli flag symbolize the Nile and the Euphrates, while in fact they are taken from the stripes of the Jewish praying shawl (Talit).
, an writer, has also spoken out against this idea. He writes that the "Nile to Euphrates" claim regarding the flag is one of seven popular misconceptions and/or myths about Jews which, despite being unfounded and having abundant evidence refuting them, continue to circulate in the Arab world.
Nevertheless, the states "After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates," and as recently as January 29, 2006, leader issued a demand for Israel to change its flag, citing the "Nile to Euphrates" argument.
Reference in the Nuremberg Laws
Paragraph 4 in "The Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour", part of the infamous of 1935, states that 1. "Jews are forbidden to display . 2. On the other hand, they are permitted to display the Jewish colours. The exercise of this right is protected by the State." Paragraph 5.3 described the penalty for infringing "1": up to one year's imprisonment plus fine, or one of these. The "Jewish colours" referred to in this article were blue and white.
Famous Israeli flagsThe raising of the (1949)
- The "" of 1949, which was raised during the War of Independence near present-day . This homemade flag's raising on a pole by several Israeli soldiers was immortalized in a photograph that has been compared with the of the being raised atop on the island of in 1944. Like the latter photograph, the Ink Flag raising has also been reproduced as a memorial.
- The Israeli flag that stayed flying throughout the siege of during the , which is currently preserved in the at . Fort Budapest was the only strongpoint along the to remain in Israeli hands during the war.
- The 2007 World Record Flag, which was unveiled at an airfield near the historic mountain fortress of . The flag, manufactured in the , measured 660 by 100 meters (2,170 ft × 330 ft) and weighed 5.2 tonnes (5.7 short tons), breaking the previous record, measured and verified by representatives for the . It was made by entrepreneur and Grace Galindez-Gupana as a religious token and diplomatic gesture of support for Israel.
- ^ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs publication 2007-04-17 at the . by art historian Alec Mishory, wherein he quotes "The Provisional Council of State Proclamation of the Flag of the State of Israel" made on October 28, 1948 by Joseph Sprinzak, Speaker.
- 2006-07-09 at the .; full article: Accessed July 28, 2006.
- ^ . . . 25 November 2007. Retrieved 2014-08-02.
- Navon, Mois. (PDF). Ptil Tekhelet Organization. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
- Simmons, Rabbi Shraga. . Ask the Rabbi. About.com. Retrieved 3 April 2006.
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- . Cambridge University Press. 31 August 2012. pp. 172–173. . Retrieved 9 May 2013. Perhaps, the most prominent Sephardic legal authority, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of Jerusalem, upholds Rabbi Feinstein's verdict and, in his comment, specifies that "those who chose this flag as a symbol of the State were evil-doers." Emphasizing that removing the flag, "a vain and useless object," from the synagogue should be done in harmony and peace, he recommends "uprooting all related to the flag so that it should not constitute a reminder of the acts of the evil-doers."
- Shimy Dvar HaShem. 22 August 2014. p. 44.
- Meir Litvak (2006). "Haredim and Western Culture: A View from Both Sides of the Ocean". . The Moshe Dayan Center. p. 287. . Note 31: This display of flags stands in sharp contrast with the negative attitude of Israeli Haredim toward the Israeli flag, which consequently is never displayed on Israeli Haredi homes or businesses.
- Erich Goode; Nachman Ben-Yehuda (19 January 2010). . John Wiley & Sons. p. 16. . Many haredim or ultra-orthodox Jews believe that the state of Israel should not be considered legitimate until the messiah manifests himself. Hence, some anti-Zionist haredi factions practice the burning of the Israeli flag on Independence Day
- Genesis 15.18: "The Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying unto thy seed have I given this land from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the River Euphrates."
- , , September 1988.
ARAFAT: Yes, because they don't want it. Look at the slogans they use: that the land of Israel is from the Euphrates to the Nile. This was written for many years over the entrance to the Knesset, the parliament. It shows their national ambition—they want to advance to the Jordan River. One Israel for them, what's left for us... Do you know what the meaning of the Israeli flag is?
ARAFAT: It is white with two blue lines. The two lines represent two rivers, and in between is Israel. The rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates.
- Rubin, Barry. 2006-03-22 at the ., The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, The , 1993. Accessed April 3, 2006.
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