City Hall displays Israeli flag for 70th birthday

Ceremony met with celebration, protest

Justin Udo
May 14, 2018 - 3:55 pm
People protested Israel's U.S. Embassy move during a City Hall ceremony celebrating the state's birthday.

Justin Udo | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Local officials were met in the middle of crossfire as they celebrated another major milestone for the state of Israel.

The City of Philadelphia celebrated Israel's 70th birthday Monday by raising the Israeli flag over City Hall — a first for the city.

The flag will fly over the city for three days and nights.

During the ceremony, Mayor Jim Kenney reiterated his stance on U.S.-Israel relations.

"Our support for the state of Israel is important — as Americans, as Philadelphians," he said. "Honoring their anniversary is an important thing to do."

Elected officials who attended the event were met by protesters upset over the skirmishes between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the Gaza border.

The protests, which resulted in dozens of Palestinian deaths, were in response to the Trump administration opening its U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as opposed to remaining in Tel Aviv. President Donald Trump announced the decision in December 2017 when he formally recognized the city as the capital of Israel.

Tali Ruskin, a Jewish Voice for Peace committee member, said it's important that their concerns are heard.

"We're ashamed that our elected officials are out here supporting the state of Israel and on our City Hall property," she said. "We are a group of Jews and allies demanding that our elected officials not celebrate the state of Israel, as they are actively engaging in a massacre of unarmed protesters in Gaza."

Pennsylvania Rep. Dwight Evans said it's unfortunate what's going on with Israel, and cooler heads need to prevail. 

"What's happening to the Palestinians cannot be justified, but on the other hand, folks got to work this out," he said.

Mayor Kenney said he understands there are varying viewpoints on Israel, but he's there to recognize the sacrifices and efforts made by the Israeli people.

"Our relationship with Israel and the Jewish people is strong, and it's longstanding. There's been violence in that region for generations now, so hopefully one day it will end," he said.