Tel Aviv’s Lebanese flag display sparks backlash, including in Lebanon

The gesture of solidarity after the blast leveled a good part of Beirut was criticized by at least some Lebanese citizens.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai thought it would be a nice gesture to light up the face of Tel Aviv City Hall with the flag of Lebanon in solidarity with Israel’s neighbor after the horrific explosion on Tuesday.

The sign of friendship was met with threats by some Lebanese on social media. “We do not want you to light the Lebanese flag,” wrote user Abbass ALI in Arabic, adding in Hebrew, “We will light up Tel Aviv with our missiles.”

Another tweeted, “When we want Tel Aviv to be bright, we will light it our way.”

Other reactions on Twitter showed that other Lebanese were hardly grateful for the gesture, calling it “Israeli hypocrisy” and worse. Electronic Intifada wrote, “Israel, destroyer of Lebanon, poses as its savior.”

“Israel has invaded, bombed and violated Lebanese airspace and maritime waters on countless occasions over many years now…. Tel Aviv’s ‘offer’ to ‘help’ Lebanon is crude and sickening Israeli propaganda,” @DrMarcusP tweeted.

Conspiracy theorists even accused Israel of being behind the blast, although Lebanese officials themselves are calling it a horrific accident.

One tweeted, “First they [Israeli flag] do terrorist attack and then the hypocritical [Lebanese] flag? WTF.” Another conjectured that the Lebanese were denying that it was an attack so that Beirut wouldn’t have to respond.

The flag display was also viewed with a jaundiced eye by nationalist Israelis given the state of war that still exists between the two countries.

Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Rabbi Rafi Peretz said that while Israel can and should provide humanitarian aid as more than 5,000 civilians have been injured, “waving an enemy flag in the heart of Tel Aviv is moral confusion.”

Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, went further, calling it “simply insane” in a Twitter post, considering that “Lebanon is officially an enemy state.”

Meanwhile, reacting to several Israeli hospitals offering to take in wounded, Opposition MK Betzalel Smotrich took a realpolitik stance.

“If we gain politically from it and get points in the national arena, and it’s anyway in our interests, then fine,” he tweeted. “But morally, we have no obligation or need to extend a helping hand to an outright enemy state.”

He then quoted a famous Talmudic dictum that “He who has compassion for the cruel will end up being cruel to the compassionate.”

Other Israel critics also took to Twitter to mock the move as well as Israel’s aid offer.

In one pro-Israel response, a Michael Starr replied, “I can’t imagine the blind hatred it takes to perceive an offer of aid as propaganda. Lebanon should take it, it won’t just mend the wounds of the injured, but those between the two countries.”

Jerusalem’s offer was reportedly rejected by Lebanese officials who said, “We do not take aid from an enemy state.”