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  • History of Israel's Flag

    The 18th Zionist Congress, 1933, resolved that "according to a tradition of many years the azure-white is the flag of the Zionist Federation and the Hebrew People". But except for that, no authorized Zionist insitution resolved the shape of the flag. But the the present form of a Magen David between two stripes became the accepted form and the only one I saw in photographs since the 1930's. This was the flag used by Israeli soldiers in the War of Independence even before the Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948 and that was the flag present at the Declaration. Nahum Shereshevsky, 2 June 1998

    Transformation of a flag by Moshe Ronen

    As Indepemdence day approach, we hang the national flag on public buildings, in the streets and on most private houses. We all know the national flag and emblem. We accepted them as such and didn't gave any thought to the way thoy were designed.

    The secrets behind the designation of the the national flag and the official symbols, are recealed in a unique exhibition, opened in this weekend at the gallery of "A'huzat Bayit" in Ra'anana. The assence of the exhibition is dedicated to Ricahrd Ar'el, who was the graphical advisor to the government of Israel in the first ten years of independence. Ar'el was responsible to the design of the national flag and supervised the choosing and designing of its symbols, official papers and its stamps in the first ten years of existance.

    The initial idea for designing the flag was provided by the "prophet of the state" Benyamin Ze'ev Herz'l. He suggested seven gold stars to mark seven daily working hours, on white background, to mark our new and pure life according to his vision. Photo of the script in Herzl hand writing is also presented in the exhibition in "A'huzat Bayit". David Wolfson, one of the Zionist leaders in Herzl, suuggested to add two light blue [T'helet] stripes to the flag to remind the "Talith", and between them, he suusseted, to scribe the Magen David (which was adopted by the Jews of Prague in the 17th Cent. and in the 19th Cent. became a known Jewish symbol). Herzl didn't gave up of the seven gold stars, but suggested that six of them will be placed in the ends of the MD points, and the seventh will be scribed above it.

    The blue white flag with the MD in its center became the flag of the Zionist Movement. However, 50 years after Herzl proposal, when the state was established, its leaders afraid to make it the the national flag. They were afraid that Jews that will hoist it in their countries, will be suspected in double loyalty.

    For half a year of independence, the state of Israel didn't have an official flag. In the heat of arguments on the flag, the Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion suggested: Lets go to the public and hear its opinion. The government decided to issue a proclamation asking the public to make proposals to the national flag. In the proclamation was written that the flag must be blue-white, however other colors could be submitted too. About 170 proposals were submitted and all of them were given to Ar'el. Most of the proposals were verbals and Ar'el was required to produce them in graphical way. He took out few dozens which look mor serious then other and painted them on hard paper in order to present them to the government and the committee of miniters in carch on symbols and ceremonies that was already exists.

    Most of the proposals was according to the government request, in blue-white colours, but some proposed to incooporate also red or orange colors, colors of royalty, in the flag.

    Ar'el prefered proposal was denied. He preffer a three parts flag [triband] reminding the French or Italian flags, with two blue rectangles in the sides and cenral white rectangle charged with blue.

    However, most of the first government members preffered two horizontal stripes on white background insted of two vertical rectangles. they explained that one line reminds the sky and the other one reminds the sea.

    Another change was made at the last moment. The color of the stripes and MD, supposed to be light blue (as in the Talith) became blue for being more prominant and easier to be seen at top of Israli flag ship's mast at sea. On 28 October 1948 the provisionally council of state determined that the final draw made by Richard Ar'el is Israel official flag."

    The blue stripes are intended to symbolize the stripes on a tallit, the traditional Jewish prayer shawl. The portrayal of a Star of David on the flag of the State of Israel is a widely acknowledged symbol of the Jewish people and of Judiasm.

    The blue and white stripes also symbolize a life of purity, guided by the precepts of the Torah, and the Star of David, which symbolizes rebirth and new life for the Jewish people, tie the State of Israel, through its flag, to the past, present and future.

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