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History of the Flag of Israel

QUESTION: What is the history of the flag of Israel?


The history of the flag of Israel has its genesis in the Zionist movement. The Zionist movement's goal was to seek the re-establishment of a home in Eretz -- Israel for the Jews. God promised this land to them. At that time, their land was part of the British Mandate on Palestine-Eretz Israel. On November 29, 1947, the British Mandate was officially portioned by the United Nations into Arab and Jewish states. This gave them irrevocable rights to establish their nation. The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel took place on the 14th May 1948 at the Tel Aviv Museum.

At this important ceremony it was natural that the flag of the Zionist movement was used. This flag was the symbol of the Zionist struggle by Jewish communities around the world. At that time, however, the flag for the State of Israel had not been decided upon.

Not long after, the ad-hoc committee of the Provisional Council of State decided that it would be necessary to have a State flag different from the international Zionist flag.

On the 28th of October 1948, the Flag of the state of Israel was proclaimed. Briefly, it consisted of a white background with two dark sky blue stripes over the whole length of the flag. In the middle of the white background was the star of David -- a symbol long associated with Jewish people though not of uniquely Jewish origin. Thus, the Zionist flag was duly adopted as the flag of the State of Israel.

This short history of the flag of Israel would not be complete without giving some insight into how the Zionist Movement flag had been chosen. It was the first Zionist Congress held in 1897 at Basle, Switzerland. The question of a Zionist flag arose and after some discussion David Wolffsohn informed those gathered that there was a flag already in existence. He displayed the Jewish prayer shawl (tallit).

"The tallit with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this Tallit 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..." says David Wolffsohn.

Even before the first Zion Congress, there was a blue and white flag flown over the village of the Rishon Lezion in 1885 -- one of the first Zionist settlements. Independently of this, the Bnai Zion Educational Society of Boston had a blue and white flag with a star of David hoisted at the dedication of its meeting hall in 1891.

The history of the flag of Israel embodies the Jews holding fast to one of God promises to them. It was through Israel that the promised Messiah came.

Learn More about the History of Israel!

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