Raise our flag high
After decades, Israeli flag to finally wave over our consulate in Los Angeles
Published: 09.28.08, 17:59 / Israel Opinion
For more than 50 years, the location of Israel’s second largest consulate in North America was a secret. No flag was waving over the 17-story building, no sign announced that blue-and-white passports are being issued there, and we journalists always debated how to describe the consulate building. Usually it would end with an enigmatic description such as “the consulate, which is located in a multistory building on a busy street in LA’s business center…”
A year ago, when Consul General Yaakov Dayan assumed his post, he naively wanted to check why no flag proudly waves at the front of the
building. All his predecessors dismissed the naďve question by saying it was a “security issue” – after all, nobody wants to mark the target for terrorists – yet a simple inquiry revealed that there is no prevention to post a flag on an Israeli diplomatic mission. The Shin Bet does not object to this, the Foreign Ministry does not object to this, and even the defense minister did not express any reservations.
So who did? Surprisingly, only the building’s owner, a Korean multimillionaire who controls half of Wilshire Boulevard, and feared that the Israeli flag will drive away tenants. The Turkish and Israeli flags invite trouble, he explained to the consul general.
The Israeli flag campaign featured pressure exerted on the Korean multimillionaire by the mayor, city council members, and many members of the Jewish community; ultimately, it was proven successful.
Small victory for Israeli common sense
The street was to be sealed off Sunday, a giant zeppelin was set to fly above, Macy Gray was scheduled to sing the national anthem, and thousands were expected to arrive and cheer on the flag, in what may be one of the most emotional (and provocative) events ever held by Israel in the city.
This struggle was premised on ideology that many Israelis are still scared to adopt. Remember the pleas in the early ‘80s: Don’t speak Hebrew and don’t wear shirts with Hebrew letters at foreign airports? Many planes have flown through the skies since then, but an Israeli flag on top of a consulate still scares us.
Waving our flag openly is a small victory for Israeli common sense. In the face of the somber, cumbersome American security doctrine, which views every baby that boards a plane as a security risk that should have his shoes removed (and the milk poured out of his bottle,) we can be proud of a blue-and-white selection process that separates real threats from virtual ones.
From now on, you can proudly say: The Israeli consulate, 6380 Wilshire Boulevard; the building with the flag.