Updated: Sunday, 19th November 2017 @ 8:06am

Palestine flag over town hall: Manchester 'can't be neutral over murdered children'

Palestine flag over town hall: Manchester 'can't be neutral over murdered children'

| By Samar Maguire

Manchester City Council should not be neutral over humanitarian issues like the deaths of innocent children, a campaigner claims ahead of the decision to fly a Palestinian flag over the town hall.

Mark Krantz, who launched the petition to fly the Palestinian flag above the Town Hall, believes that the act should not be confused as a recognition of the Palestinian state.

Mr Krantz, member of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, claims to have initiated the petition as an 'expression of solidary' for children killed in Gaza.

Objectors to the petition have emailed the council with counter-arguments, stating that Manchester should remain politically neutral to avoid 'inflaming' racial and anti-Semitic tensions.

"Manchester is not ‘neutral’ over humanitarian question such as Palestinian children being killed in Gaza," said Mr Krantz.

"The people of Manchester were not neutral over the question of slavery in America. They launched a petition, and boycotted all cotton picked by slave hands. Abraham Lincoln thanked Manchester.

"The Rhodesia flag that is painted in the ceiling of Manchester's Great Hall was covered with a black cloth for most of the 1980s – as an expression of solidary with the anti-apartheid struggle for South Africa. Nelson Mandela thanked Manchester.

"Recent studies show that reported incidents of anti Semitism did occur following the Israeli bombing of Gaza in 2009 and again in 2014, but reports show that anti-Semitism decreased when Israel was not bombing Gaza."

Under council protocol, a debate has been organised for Wednesday lunchtime as the petition received more than 1,000 votes (more than 2,500 in total).

Raphi Bloom, co-chair of Northwest Friends of Israel, believes that the flag will cause further tension in Manchester and that the conflict should be left to the British government.

He told MM: "What he [Mr Krantz] needs to understand is that it is not for local councils to make decisions based on geopolitical and multifaceted complex issues that occur in foreign land, that’s why we have a UK central government.

"We’ve just seen reports released by the CST [Community Security Trust] which shows that Manchester suffered an 80% increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the last year. 

"A large proportion of those linked to attacks on Jewish people are by individuals and organisations who wish to target Jewish people as a way of disagreeing with Israel.

"The council and police have done a huge amount of work to repair those tensions, but to fly the Palestinian flag now would only inflame those tensions and put the Jewish community at greater risk."

Mr Bloom also felt that the council should question Mr Krantz's motive.

"The other thing that I would say is to question his motive. Question it seriously," he said.

"Why is he not asking the council to fly a Tibetan flag in solidarity for the people of Tibet because many people disagree with China's treatment of Tibet?

"Why is he not still asking the council to fly a Ukranian flag because many people disagree with what Russia are doing in Ukraine?

"It seems very odd to me at a time of heightened anti-Semitic tension that he's only asking people to fly the Palestinian flag. Therefore, the council have a duty of care under the local authority to assess what impact their actions will have on their community."

Image courtesy of Diego, with thanks.