The flag of Palestine is the flag of Palestine, but it’s also the flag of the people

For me at least, the shock-effect of a hundred waving Palestinian flags is beginning to wear off – not because I’m used to the sight but because I’ve found something else that’s proven to be more breathtaking and awe-inspiring. As much as we all love staring into a sea of Palestinian flags, I want you to divert your attention to those standing underneath the flags, those whom the flag represents.

The first time I ever refocused my attention, I was surprised by what I saw: people from all different types of backgrounds and affiliations holding the very same flag in the very same way. It’s as if the Palestinian flag took on a new role and became a universal symbol of resistance against all forms of inhumanity and injustice.

To better understand the dynamics of the Palestinian flag, I investigated its history. That’s when I bumped into an excerpt from a thirteenth century poem by Safi al-Din al-Hili who wrote about the four colors that make up the Palestinian flag.

White are our deeds, black are our battles,
Green are our fields, red are our swords.
Safi al-Din al-Hili

As poetic as it sounds, I wasn’t too convinced. His words definitely identify recognizable aspects of the Palestinian identity, but something is undoubtedly missing. To me at least, the flag represents more than just a reminder of green olive trees or the colorful consequences of decades of battle. Rather, the flag of Palestine appears to unify people of all colors and attitudes into a single, inspirational, and progressive campaign demanding all that is right from all that is wrong. Although I based this conclusion on previous personal experiences with the flag, I wanted affirmation. I feel insecure without tangible evidence outside of my own personal stash, so I felt compelled to ‘ask the audience’. What does the Palestinian flag mean to you? The responses sent to me show just how universal the flag of Palestine really is.

It means struggle, resistance, and unity – not only unity for the Palestinian people but for people of all races and religions, uniting under one flag to fight for humanity.
Sarah H., Edmonton

The Palestinian flag is not a flag that represents me, one Chinese American girl. It is more than that. Right now, it is a flag that symbolizes the dream to continue on no matter the circumstances because the prize at the end is worth every color and detail printed on that simple rectangle.
Julianne Z., Sugar Land

The flag to me shows the tears of friends and is also a symbol of hope and strength. By hope I mean that there is still an ongoing struggle for freedom that I get reminded of whenever I see the flag.
Alex Z., Chicago

It represents the displaced people, murdered citizens, and children who have never known freedom in their own land.
Syazwina S., Malaysia

Although I am not Palestinian, the perseverance and strength that the Palestinian flag represents makes me proud to be a supporter of the cause. It symbolizes unity too – so many different walks of life have come together for Palestine. It means pride, strength, struggle, love, humanity.
Becky G., Chicago

Green, Red, and Black – Three primary colors which symbolize three pillars of justice – peace, unity and dignity. Together, in the form of the Palestinian flag, they are three unbreakable, unwavering shades which elevate all those who cherish them. The Palestinian flag is a trisected DNA strand; the lifeline of liberation.
Ruqayyah C., Fort Worth

It’s a symbol of human rights, and this is a flag that should be held high for those who have ever experienced injustice, oppression, racial discrimination, anti-Semitism, and any other degrading act overall. I feel that when someone raises the flag, it’s truly there to let everyone know we are still alive and we are here to stay forever.
Nada A., Chicago

It represents determination for justice; it represents a united group of people who will stand tall and fight for what is right.
Sevde F., Ann Arbor

Hope, faith, and a strong and steadfast people who will not give up or give in. That’s what I think of when I see the Palestinian flag.
Roxy G., Dallas

It reminds me of the struggle that the generations before me went through which then implements the idea in my head that without a struggle there won’t be change. If it weren’t for the struggle, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to at least practice one of my rights as a human being which is to voice my opinion.
Raia H., Chicago

The Palestinian flag to me is a symbol of what once was a united Arab nationalist movement. Pan-Arabist colors showed our connection to the Arab world. It is a representation of what once was, but is used today as a symbol of hope for what once was and could be.
Shirien D., Chicago

Notice how the responses emphasize resistance against the forces of inhumanity. Notice how each individual yearns to liberate the world’s people from the world’s injustice. Notice the level of hope the flag instills in each contributor. And for a real treat, notice the universal nature of the Palestinian flag. Read the names and pinpoint the locations. Most of these individuals don’t have any ethnic ties to Palestine. Most aren’t even Arab. And all of them live outside of the borders of native Palestine. Nevertheless, the flag still waves proudly above everyone’s heads, in solidarity with the people of Palestine as well as the people of the world, you and I included.

In my quest to ‘define’ the Palestinian flag, I’ve come to recognize it as an international symbol of a never-ending struggle for justice. No matter who holds the flagpole or where the flag is waved, as long as it’s raised with conviction, every inch of the flag represents the global movement to safeguard humanity. The flag of Palestine is the flag of Palestine, but it’s also the flag of the people – all 6.8 billion of them.

Sami Kishawi

What does the Palestinian flag mean to you? Email your responses to smpalestine@gmail.com or leave a comment. Thank you!

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