“How much you selling ‘em for?” I asked.

“Five shekels…special Independence Day price” answered the lanky teen with the knitted kippa.

I looked at him. I looked at the red light in front of us. I looked at my 10-year old daughter.

“Nu, lady, please decide quickly, the light is about to change,” he anxiously continued.

I passed him a 20. “I’ll take two.”

He handed me two flags, blue and white with the Star of David smacked in the middle.

Chucking them into the back seat, these small flags suddenly seemed very heavy and awkward.

“Mommy, are we really going to put the flags on the car?” my daughter asked.

“Of course,” I responded.

“But mommy, last year we didn’t put them on the car.”

“Right, we didn’t. This year, I changed my mind. We are reclaiming our flag.”

This coming Wednesday is Yom Hazikaron – Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror. On Wednesday night the sadness of Memorial Day strangely segues into Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebration – fireworks, concerts and children’s events.

Twenty-five years ago, I made Aliyah to a very different Israel. In 1994, peace seemed imminent and I proudly waved my Israeli flag – then a symbol of hope for a better future.

In recent years, as I felt democratic values and ethics slipping away, leaving an empty shell of procedural democracy – the “tyranny of the majority” — I stopped displaying the flag. In an Israel where the terms “leftist or liberal” are popular synonyms for “traitor”, I had a hard time finding my “place”.

My precious flag had been hijacked!

And then….

I saw an advertisement that Women Wage Peace was offering their own flags, a sort of “alternative flag”. About to purchase one, I had an epiphany.

The Israeli flag belongs to ME and needs to represent MY liberal Zionist values.

I have great respect for Women Wage Peace and their unceasing efforts to demand an agreement.

I would like to see an end to the Occupation.

I am a staunch advocate of building a shared Jewish Arab society in Israel with joint learning initiatives from preschool onwards.

I support the New Israel Fund.

I believe in the Jewish State’s responsibility to assist refugees and migrants.

I oppose the Orthodox monopoly on Jewish religious concerns and support the efforts of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements to gain rights.

AND

…. JUST LIKE all those people who consider my tribe and me to be “traitors”,

I pay taxes (lots) to this country,

I educate my kids in the state-run public schools.

And when they graduate high school, I send them to fulfill their civic duties and complete their compulsory military service.

I don’t want an “alternative” flag (although I may get one to complement the traditional flag).

I am reclaiming the Israeli flag.

Flying proudly as my car navigates the Negev highways, my flag represents a beautiful Israel where tolerance, diversity, and the Golden Rule are paramount – just as our founding fathers intended when they wrote the Proclamation of Independence.

“The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Happy 70th Birthday to the State of Israel!