A town in Massachusetts raised the Palestinian flag over their community on Tuesday after a “pretty heated” debate among residents, with residents kicked out of a meeting to discuss the flag and the local rabbi calling the decision “cowardly.”
North Andover, home to 31,000 people who live 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Boston, has been flying the Israeli flag since shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.
Some locals also wanted to fly the Palestinian flag, in the interest of fairness.
But others saw it as “a symbol of hate,” said Brian Buzby, a local resident.
A town meeting was held Monday evening, with 600 people cramming into the meeting room to take turns speaking for three minutes – with passionate arguments from both sides.
The Palestinian flag was raised over the town of North Andover on Tuesday
After a ‘heated’ meeting on Monday evening, the flag was raised
North Andover residents lined up Monday evening to speak out for or against flying the Palestinian flag. Each person was given three minutes and comments were limited to one hour
Some people had to be removed from the room, and at times people chanted slogans such as “From the river to the sea” – which Israelis say calls for the erasure of their nation.
The meeting was scheduled for last week but was postponed due to “threats of lawsuits and public safety concerns.”
Buzby said he was in favor of flying the Palestinian flag and said his wife’s sister-in-law had lost 14 relatives in Gaza since the war began, including four children.
Buzby said the meeting was tense.
“It was quite warm,” he said Boston 25 News.
“There are people who view the Palestinian flag as a symbol of hatred.”
Brian Buzby said he supported the request to fly the Palestinian flag over the town of North Andover
Salma Boula, who was also present, said on the channel there was ‘a lot of tension, a lot of opposition.’
She supported the proposal to fly the Palestinian flag.
“If Israel flies its flag in the North Andover Common, Palestinians deserve the same right,” she said.
As a precaution, there was a large police presence at the meeting.
The proposal to fly the Palestinian flag was submitted on October 16 – hours before the city changed its policy in line with a US Supreme Court ruling.
Under the new policy now in effect, North Andover City Manager Melissa Rodrigues said there is no longer a mayor, flags were no longer allowed to be flown.
But because the request was made under the old policy, it was voted on by the board, and the city did not want to face litigation by denying the request.
Marc Freedman, president of Congregation Ahavat Olam in North Andover, said Fox News digital he was disgusted and shocked by the decision.
“The city was a coward,” Freedman said.
“I don’t believe the flag should have been flown because today it is a symbol of hatred and anti-Semitism.”
North Andover residents stream out of Monday night’s board meeting
North Andover is not alone in Massachusetts raising the Palestinian flag in the public square.
According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the state’s second-largest city, Worcester, flew in front of City Hall.
North Andover’s representative in the House of Representatives, Seth Moulton, has said that the war between Israel and Hamas would “probably” not have started if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not been in power.
Moulton said Netanyahu was a “total disaster” but said he did not support calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. He said this would only give Hamas more time to regroup.
Moulton, an ex-Marine who served four tours in Iraq and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, told Mass Live on Monday that he wanted more humanitarian breaks so hostages could be released and civilians evacuated.