A Massachusetts town has raised the Palestinian flag over their common on Tuesday after a ‘pretty heated’ debate among residents, with residents evicted from a meeting to discuss the flag and the local rabbi branding the decision ‘cowardly’.
Some locals wanted to fly the Palestinian flag as well, in the interests of fairness.
But others saw it as ‘a symbol of hate’, said Brian Buzby, a local resident.
A town meeting was held on Monday night, which saw 600 people cram into the meeting room to take turns speaking for three minutes – with passionate arguments on both sides.
The Palestinian flag was raised above North Andover’s town common on Tuesday
The flag was raised after a ‘heated’ meeting on Monday night
Residents of North Andover are seen on Monday night lining up to speak in favor or against flying the Palestinian flag. Each person was given three minutes, and remarks were limited to an hour
Some people needed to be removed from the room, and at times people chanted slogans including ‘From the river to the sea’ – which Israelis say advocates the erasing of their nation.
The meeting had been scheduled for last week, but was postponed due to ‘threats of litigation as well as public safety concerns’.
Buzby said he was in favor of the Palestinian flag flying, saying his wife’s sister-in-law had lost 14 members of her family in Gaza since the war started – four of them children.
Buzby said the meeting was tense.
‘It was pretty heated,’ he told Boston 25 News.
‘There are those that look at the Palestinian flag as a symbol of hate.’
Brian Buzby said he supported the request to fly the Palestinian flag over North Andover town common
Salma Boula, who also attended, to the channel there was ‘a lot of tension, a lot of opposition.’
She supported the proposal to fly the Palestinian flag.
‘If Israel gets their flag to fly in the North Andover common then Palestinians deserve that same right,’ she said.
There was a large police presence at the meeting as a precaution.
The proposal to fly the Palestinian flag was submitted on October 16 – hours before the town updated its policies, in line with a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Under the new policies, now in place, Melissa Rodrigues, the town manager – North Andover does not have a mayor, said flags could no longer be flown.
But as the request was made under the old policy, it went to a board vote, and the town did not want to face litigation by denying the request.
Marc Freedman, president of the Congregation Ahavat Olam in North Andover, told Fox News Digital he was disgusted and horrified by the decision.
‘The town was a coward,’ Freedman said.
‘I don’t believe the flag should have been raised because today it is a symbol of hatred and antisemitism.’
North Andover residents are seen on Monday night streaming out of the board meeting
North Andover is not alone in Massachusetts in raising the Palestinian flag in the public square.
The state’s second-largest city, Worcester, flew the flag in front of City Hall, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
North Andover’s representative in the House of Representatives, Seth Moulton, has said the Israel-Hamas war would ‘probably’ not have begun had Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not been in power.
Moulton said Netanyahu was a ‘total disaster’, but said he did not back calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying it would only give Hamas more time to regroup.
Moulton, an ex-Marine who served four tours in Iraq, and sits on the House Armed Services Committee, told Mass Live on Monday that he wanted more humanitarian pauses, to allow for hostages to be released and civilians evacuated.