“Our Right to Raise Our Flag:” Car Rally for Palestine

Protesters in Montreal Denounce Israel’s Ban on Palestinian Flag

Graphic Adam Gibbard.

“Red like our blood, green like our land, black for the hard days, and white for our hearts.” Protesters sang along, and others listened as this popular Arabic Palestinian revolution song played from a car’s speakers on Jan. 22 in parc Lafontaine. 

Never had the song’s lyrics rang so true to protesters in Montreal until Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s new minister of national security, ordered the removal of Palestinian flags in public.

“For us it hits home—literally,” said Sarah, a protester who asked to withhold her last name. “It’s our pride. It’s our representation of home.”

The international Palestinian community has responded to the measure by rallying all over the world this weekend and raising their flag. Other cities involved in the Raise Your Flag Global Event include Edmonton and Charlotte, NC.

In Montreal, the Palestinian community and supporters met at parc Lafontaine and attached flags to their car windows. They drove around and honked their horns all with the objective to “get people talking about the Palestinian cause,” said  protest organizer Mike Abdallah.

“Our goal is very clear,” Abdallah went on, “we’re saying it is our right to raise our flag; there’s nothing wrong with it. We’re telling the Zionist government that […] we will make sure to keep it high all over the world, not only in Palestine.”

The drive ended at the Israeli consulate located at 1 Westmount Square.

Lina Mateou, an Algerian woman looking to show her support, was draped in a scarf that showed off the colors of the Palestinian flag.

“I often participate in rallies and my heart is with them. People are getting killed, and they can’t even raise their flag,” Mateou stated. “My heart can’t take it. I think by protesting we can change things, but it takes time.”

When prompted about the minister’s comment about the association of the flag with terrorism, Mateou’s eyes widened. “Of course it’s not true,” she said. “They’re way in over their heads.”

Indeed, on Jan. 8, Ben Gvir made a statement ordering “the removal of flags supporting terrorism from the public space and to stop the incitement against Israel.”

Abdallah was not surprised.“We’ve heard it before and it’s simply not true,” the organizer answered over the sound of the chants.

One might believe that the constant fight for their rights might take a toll on the protesters. This goes especially when the new ultranationalist Israeli government’s agenda pushes for major changes, both regarding Israeli politics and the treatment of Arabs in the country. But they remain steadfast in their resolve.

“This pushes us harder, if anything,” said Sarah.“This gives us that drive that we need to keep going and make sure the entire world hears our voices.”

“Within our lifetime,” Abdallah concurred with a phrase often used when talking about the liberation of Palestine,“we’ll keep going as long as we’re alive, and as long as we need to, because I know Palestine will be free within our lifetime.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 10, published January 24, 2023.