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Massachusetts town approves proposal to fly Palestinian flag

A Massachusetts town approved flying the Palestinian flag for a month despite heated debates among its residents in the wake of Hamas terrorists’ attack on Israel in October.

The black, white, green and red flag of the Palestinian Liberation Organization was hoisted below both the American flag and POW-MIA flag on the North Andover Town Common flagpole.

College student Selma Khayal originally petitioned for the Palestinian flag to be raised after the town had flown the Israeli flag on the same pole following the Hamas terror attacks on Oct. 7, according to the Flag Raising Permit viewed by The Post.

Khayal placed the request on Oct. 16, just six hours before the town updated its flag-flying policies.

The old policy allowed anyone to petition to have any flag raised in the town after approval by the Select Board “resulting in the flagpole being considered a public forum.”

With the updated policy the notion of the flagpole being used as a public forum was removed and, instead, will be limited to “statements of governmental speech only,” with the board citing last year’s unanimous Supreme Court decision in Shurtleff v. Boston.

The 9-0 decision requires select boards to make content-neutral decisions on flags unless the town restricts flagpoles to governmental speech only.

“It is the policy of North Andover (Town) that its flag poles located at the Town Common are not intended to serve as a forum for free expression by the public, but rather as expressions of the Town’s official sentiments,” the updated policy reads.

North Andover is located 30 miles north of Boston, with a population of nearly 31,000 in 2020.

Because Khayal’s request predated the policy change, the board treated the petition under the old policy and allowed for discussion at a Select Board meeting, that became contentious between two groups in the town on Nov. 13.

Several people were escorted out of North Andover High School after shouting attendees down during the contentious meeting on Monday.

The meeting came a week after its originally scheduled time slot as the board canceled the Nov. 6 meeting due to threats of litigation, public safety concerns and space constraints.

Some Jewish residents slammed North Andover’s decision to raise the Palestinian flag, claiming it represents “hatred” and “terrorism.”

The meeting came a week after its originally scheduled time slot as the board canceled the Nov. 6 meeting due to threats of litigation, public safety concerns and space constraints.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed with the decision,” Rabbi Idan Irelander told WCVB. “For us in the Jewish community, the Palestinian flag, unfortunately, represents Hamas. It represents hatred, terrorism, anti-Semitism because Hamas is the elected party,”

“This is a time of grief and solidarity with the Palestinian people, and it’s taking back the narrative because this flag represents its people, it represents a culture,” said Jenna Khayal, the sister of petitioner Selma Khayal. “It is not a terrorist flag, and we will not let it be misconstrued that way,”

Police have reportedly been called to the Town Common several times since the flag was raised forcing the Department of Public Works to knot the rope at the top, preventing others from taking the flag down.

The flag is scheduled to be flown until December 7, according to the signed permit.


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