Iraqi lawmakers outlaw Israeli flags, ‘Zionist’ symbols

The Iraqi parliament bans public displays of ‘Zionist’ symbols weeks after Kurdish independence referendum saw Israeli flag appear during rallies; sudden move likely attributed to Israel’s open solidarity with Kurds and support for their independence.

The Iraqi parliament voted Tuesday to ban the Israeli flag and other “Zionist” symbols after it was displayed at several rallies called in support of Kurdish independence.

Israel’s blue and white flag bearing the Star of David is symbol that has long been persona non grata in many Arab and heavily Muslim-populated countries, considered to be emblematic of what the Iraqi parliament described as “the Zionist enemy.”

Nevertheless, while Iraq and Israel do not hold diplomatic relations, it was not immediately clear what provided the sudden impetus behind criminalizing the flag.

Statements made by the Israeli leadership in recent weeks in support of Kurds, who recently held an independence referendum in Iraq in their autonomous region despite Baghdad’s opposition, have also attracted greater animosity from Iraqi officials

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the most senior politician in Israel to articulate his explicit support for the Kurds.

“The Kurds are showing maturity both nationally and internationally,” Netanyahu said in a statement from his office. “We sympathize with their desires and the world must be concerned about their security and their future.”

With the Iraqi parliament’s blessing, waving the Israeli flag in public now carries a possible criminal charges.

Israeli flags waved amid the Kurdish cries for independence were also targeted in September by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who warned the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq that the flags would not “save” them.

“Who will recognize your independence? Israel. The world is not about Israel. You should know that the waving of Israeli flags there will not save you,” Erdogan said.

Despite Israel standing in solidarity with the Kurds, the Israeli flag provoked further anger among their opponents after IDF chief of staff Yair Golan announced that he did not view the Kurdish resistance movement PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) as a terrorist organization.

Netanyahu’s swift repudiation of the claim did little to salvage the Israeli flag’s image in Iraq’s public domain.

Other Middle Eastern countries have conflated the notion of Kurdish independence with Israel and “Zionism.”

At the height of the pro-independence rallies in September, Iran described the entire referendum as a “Zionist plot,” vowing, “The Muslim nations will not allow the creation of a second Israel.”

By: Jack Ben-David, World Israel News