fly the Palestinian flag in solidarity
by Daniella Peled
August 1, 2002
In a bizarre twist to the Middle East conflict,
sectarian groups on the already troubled streets of Belfast have
taken to marking out their territory by flying Israeli and Palestinian
In Republican areas this summer the Palestinian flag has been strung
up alongside the Irish tricolour, whilst Unionists have reacted
with a profusion of Israeli flags displayed alongside the Union
There has traditionally been Republican support for the Palestinian
cause, with many alleged links between the IRA and the PLO in what
both parties see as an anti-imperialist struggle against occupation.
But the newfound Loyalist empathy with the Jewish state is particularly
curious given their paramilitary wings have a long history of connections
with neo-Nazi groups such as Combat 18.
Amanda Moss, Belfast representative at the Board of Deputies, describes
this development as sinister.
She said: These flags tend to be most prominent in areas
that border Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods. I noticed one
street where half of the houses had Irish and Palestinian flags
and the other half had British and Israeli flags.
This time of year is particularly tense as it is the anniversary
of the Battle of the Boyne, a major date in the Loyalist calendar.
But for them to be flying Israeli flags is quite ironic due to their
past connections with the far-right.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said: Its true that historically
the republicans have been more associated with the Palestinians,
and the Loyalists have looked more towards the Israeli side.
But right now I think the majority of republicans actively
identify with the Palestinians, whereas with the Loyalists its
more of a reaction rather than being based on any ideological feelings.
However, you try telling that to notorious Loyalist leader Johnny
Mad Dog Adair, who reportedly even draped his pet alsatian
Rebel with a Magen David flag.
A Democratic Unionist Party spokesman said: Its traditional
to fly flags throughout the summer in Belfast, and especially in
areas of cross-community strife where people want to mark out their
I think some people feel they are in a similar situation
as communities under threat in Israel. Its another reflection
of the tensions we live under here.