A new activist group gathered in New City on Tuesday to demand the removal of Israeli flags from government buildings.
Rockland for Ceasefire, an organization that recently coalesced “to demand an end to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza,” originally called for the gathering in response to the arrest of a 15-year-old Palestinian-American boy who removed an Israeli flag from the Clarkstown Police Department building earlier this month. The group also expressed their support of two Haredi Jewish men who were recently arrested for removing an Israeli flag from Ramapo Town Hall.
Though the case was settled a few days before the scheduled gathering, with the minor in question ordered to perform community service, the group remains adamant that no government building should display the flag of another country and pressured Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann to order the removal of the flag.
Elizabeth Roberts, the spokeswoman for Rockland for Ceasefire, did not mince words when criticizing the broader U.S. Government for their support of Israeli’s incursion into Gaza and the town governments of Rockland for their displays of solidarity with Israel.
“We are all here calling for a permanent cease fire, we are calling on the U.S. to end the funding of the Israeli war machine. We are here in solidarity for the people in Gaza who are being punished for their existence in essence. The large question is why are Israeli flags are flying around this county when right now 18 times as many Palestinians have been killed since October 7.”
At least 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been reported killed since Israel began bombing the territory in the wake of Hamas’s massacre of Israeli citizens in October, which resulted in the deaths 1,139 Israelis and the abduction of an estimated 240 people.
While Rockland for Ceasfire loudly stated their case, a counter protest took place across the street, as another group of Rockland residents rallied in support of Israel.
“They (Hamas) are still holding hostages,” stated Elana Yegai, a pro Israel demonstrator. Yegai and her fellow counter protestors voiced their resistance to a pause in the fighting while Israeli citizens remained captive in Palestine. Arguing that Hamas orchestrated an unprovoked surprise attack on Israeli citizens, the counter protesters asserted that Israel had the right to defend itself from further attack by dismantling the terrorist organization.
Supervisor Hoehmann has also voiced his support for Israel, telling the RCT “The Town of Clarkstown stands with Israel and the Jewish people against the atrocities that occurred on October 7th. Many families in Clarkstown and Rockland County have been directly impacted by this terrorism. Also, many from our community are serving in the IDF. We continue to show our support and solidarity with Israel.”
County Executive Ed Day, who Rockland for Ceasfire had also planned on presenting with a petition, told the RCT that no building belonging to the county government is displaying the flag of a foreign nation.
“There are a number of incorrect assertions made about flags on County property. To be perfectly clear, the flying of flags outside of American, State, County, and POW MIA are not allowed on our as per a long standing policy I established a number of years ago.Upon hearing about this inaccurate and wild accusation we reconfirmed with our Facilities manager that there are not, and have not been, any other unauthorized flags flown on our property.”