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The news that keeps us Onward On!
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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

University Heights City Hall flies Israeli flag: JCU responds

Local Israeli flag display sparks debate amid Middle East conflict
The city hall of University Heights hoists an Israeli flag to show support for Israel in response to the war in the Middle East
City of University Heights
The city hall of University Heights hoists an Israeli flag to show support for Israel in response to the war in the Middle East

With the international conflict going on in the Middle East, it is evident to see that people are taking sides on who to endorse. Some support Israel, and others are devoted to Palestine. However, when it comes to local governments, especially if its residents consist of both ethnic groups, most are staying silent.

This is not the case for University Heights, OH, a city with a large concentration of people who are pro-Israel and many students and faculty at John Carroll University who are pro-Palestine.

Throughout the war, the city hall in University Heights has been flying an Israeli flag on the flag post outside the building. What is even more controversial is that there is not a Palestinian flag flying alongside the Israeli one.

Mayor Michael D. Brennan of University Heights explained that, due to the number of residents in University Heights who have a connection with Israel and its people, the decision to fly the flag was an obvious choice.

“Here in University Heights, we have many residents who have family and friends in Israel. We have residents who are reservists in the Israeli army who were called up and have gone to Israel to report to duty and serve,” said Mayor Brennan in a statement at a city council meeting on Oct. 20. “In University Heights, we stand with our neighbors, our friends, our families who are in varying degrees may be as intertwined with Israel as they are with the local community here. We pray for your safety. For peace. For justice. We support you”.

There are members of the John Carroll community who support the hoisting of the Israeli flag. Dr. Noah Bickart, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Chair of Jewish Studies and associate professor of theology, states that it is important for people to support Israel because of the mass amount of violence that Hamas, a Sunni Islamist militant group, is committing against the Israeli people.

“I think it’s important to show solidarity with Israel, which suffered the worst terrorist attack on its citizens in 75 years, and the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust”, he said in a statement to The Carroll News.

However, not everyone supports the city’s action. Dr. Philip Metres, an English professor and the director of the Peace, Justice and Human Rights program at JCU, believes that the mayor of University Heights was trying to demonstrate the city’s solidarity with Israel after the initial attacks on Oct. 7 by Hamas, but it is not how Palestinians see it.

Metres said in a statement to The Carroll News that “… this is precisely what is troubling about what University Heights is doing and indeed the rest of the U.S. government and corporate media; Americans simply do not see Palestinians.”

Metres, a Palestinian, believes that the people on the other side of the conflict are not being seen as people. Rather, they are being seen as less than human, which he views is an act of injustice and inequity.

“What the empire cannot see as human, it will erase,” he says.

There are other people who agree with Metres’ line of reasoning. Gia Hamed ’25, a student leader of the JCU’s Students for Justice in Palestine, claims that the Israeli flag represents the grave amount of injustices that the Palestinian people have suffered for many decades.

“Although I am disappointed, I am not surprised to hear this. To me, this flag represents a state that has subjugated the Palestinian people to decades of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, oppression, humiliation and injustice,” she told The Carroll News.

However, Bickart stated that, although Israel is suffering a grave amount of violence due to the initial attack on Oct. 7 by Hamas, it is unfair to discriminate against Palestinians when this issue is between the members of Hamas and Israelis and not Palestinians versus Israelis.

“Support for Israelis in response to Hamas’ brutal murder, rape and kidnapping in no way should be construed as opposing legitimate Palestinian self-determination. Unfortunately, Israel/Palestine is too often seen as a zero-sum game. I for one am *both* pro-Israel *and* pro-Palestine, because I’m pro peace,” he wrote.

“I would love for people to live in a world where they are not afraid to speak up about what is happening to Palestinians, and understand that… we all have the same goal of living in peace, equality, freedom and justice,” Hamed said.

It is clear to say that as long as this conflict in the Middle East continues, the divide between Israel and Palestine will remain present. However, through their differences in cultures, religions and more, they do in fact have one thing in common; there is still a desire for peace where each side can be respected for their shared differences.

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