Photos of a flag that’s half blue, half white with a gold Star of David in the center have gone viral online. The flag resembles Israel’s current flag, but social media users are claiming it used to represent Palestine.
A Dec. 1 Instagram post shared a photo of this flag with “Palestine” written beneath it. The post’s caption read, “Palestinian flag prior to 1948. Enough said.”
Another Instagram post, shared Nov. 30, shared a similar image of this flag with text beneath it that said, “Flag of Palestine 1939.” The caption on this post read, “You want to free Palestine? Yet this was the flag of Palestine before modern day Israel was reborn in 1948. Like you like to say, ‘educate yourself’!”
(Screengrabs from Instagram)
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Middle East history experts told PolitiFact that the flag in the Instagram posts represents the Zionist movement, not Palestine.
Joel Beinin, an emeritus Middle East history professor at Stanford University, said this claim was “nonsense.” The flag in the posts was “one of many proposed Zionist or later Israeli flags.”
Tamir Sorek, a Pennsylvania State University history professor, agreed with Beinin.
“Based on its symbolism, I can tell with confidence that this particular design has never been used or proposed by anyone from within the Arab-Palestinian national movement,” Sorek said.
From 1922 to 1948, Britain ruled over the Palestinian territory. During this time, experts said the Union Jack, sometimes with the word Palestine on it, was flown in official capacities. An example of this flag is on the British Imperial War Museum’s website.
While under British mandate, Palestinians had their own flag, which is similar to the Palestinian flag seen today — three horizontal stripes of black, white and green with a red triangle on the left.
Although there were some variations over the years, the Zionist movement, which advocated for an independent Jewish state, also had its own flag: white with blue stripes at the top and bottom and a blue Star of David in the center. This became Israel’s official flag in 1948, when Israel was officially declared an independent state.
Reverse-image searches on the flags shown in the Instagram posts brought us to a 2015 Wikimedia photo that claims to show countries’ flags in a 1939 edition of the Larousse French dictionary. The photo was uploaded to Wikimedia by a Russian site, which credited a different website that no longer exists.
When we asked French publishing company Éditions Larousse to verify this image’s authenticity, a spokesperson said it could not be found in the company’s archives. Larousse said the flag appears to represent the Jewish community of Palestine at the time. (The spokesperson’s response was translated from French using Google Translate.)
We rate the claim that the Palestinian flag before 1948 included the Star of David False.