Wearing the Palestinian flag – what’s it to you?

According to the Daily Express, viewers were “left shocked” as former EastEnders actor John Altman appeared on Loose Women wearing a Palestinian flag lapel badge.

Shocked. Astonished. Scandalised. Horrified. Unable to believe their eyes. Who would have thought it? What a twist. How awful.

I thought that the 19-person stabbing attack in Japan that got virtually no coverage in the Western media (how come nobody reports on stabbings when Je…Japanese people are the target, #JapaneseLivesMatter etc.) was shocking. But in comparison to former EastEnders actor John Altman wearing a Palestinian flag lapel badge on Loose Women, it was just commonplace.

The Daily Express ran a poll to determine just how shocked its readers were. The highly scientific poll asked, “Do you think John Altman should have been allowed to wear it??” (yes there were two question marks) and had three options: (1) Yes, why not?, (2) No, it was inappropriate, and (3) Maybe, it depends on the intention.

And the self-appointed Zionist Internet Defence Force leapt into action. Ian from London posted in the Zionist Federation Facebook group to mobilise support. The ensuing Facebook thread was so outrageously pathetic that the remainder of this article is dedicated to pointing this out, point by point.

Ian from London: “Please vote now as the ‘Yes, why not?’ option is winning by miles.”

So what? A poll on the Daily Express website isn’t as precisely similar to a vote in the UN General Assembly as a stupid person might imagine. Mustering volunteers to rig an online poll is absolutely the rock-bottom lowest, most ridiculous form of useless clicktivism.

Melanie from London: “People on TV aren’t allowed to wear political symbols. John Altman broke the rules.”

May we presume that you would also be complaining about a breach of the no-political-symbols rule had he worn an Israeli flag lapel badge?

And may we presume that if the Guardian had run a report, “Viewers shocked by Israeli flag appearing on television,” you wouldn’t have immediately cried anti-Semitism and bias?

No? Then pop by the integrity shop on your way home.

Jacqueline from Nice: “He shouldn’t have been allowed to wear it because there is no such thing as Palestine.”

Why is that a problem, Jacqueline?

Even if we accept that ‘there is no such thing as Palestine’ (and I can’t help feeling that the broadcasting regulators are more likely to go by the United Nations’ view on this than yours, whether you agree with it or not), if the place doesn’t exist then how can it possibly cause any negative effects for its flag to appear on television?

If John Altman wants to go on Loose Women wearing a badge trumpeting a made-up country, football team, political party or other work of fiction, he can. It doesn’t affect you and your life.

The only way it might (hypothetically) be problematic is if Palestine does exist. But it doesn’t, right?

Though I do have to thank you, Jacqueline, because you have reminded me of a midrash about the Golden Calf.

God vows to smite the Israelites for worshipping an idol which “is only metal and has no power at all”, on which Moses asks: “If it has no power at all then why are You so wrathful?”


Adrian from Barking: “As we all know, pro-Pali means push all the Yehudi into the sea.”

Now this is interesting, firstly, because the Zionist Federation Facebook group is normally full of people insisting that Israel is a world leader in the field of proportionality – so it’s really quite odd to see you so disproportionately equating (1) the wearing of a lapel badge, with (2) systematic and deliberate genocide.

Secondly, Loose Women is recorded so far in-land that John Altman would find it very difficult indeed to push all the Yehudi into the sea. In theory he could throw us all off Waterloo Bridge, I suppose, but the railings are awkwardly high and it’s a busy stretch of waterway anyway so we’d probably be rescued quite quickly.

And thirdly, of course, if someone is determined to wipe out the Jews then they’re probably equally able to do it whether or not wearing a small lapel badge (and perhaps all the more motivated to resort to violence against Jews if members of a Jewish Facebook group organise to deny them the opportunity to engage in a peaceful expression of their political views).

And just to round off:

Bernard from Dublin: “Why did ITV allow it?”

Because presumably they don’t share your belief in selective censorship, Bernard. And if they did, you’d be the first to complain.


You’re all silly.

A badge ≠ evil. A belief that Palestine should exist (as held by the current, pro-two-state-solution Israeli government) ≠ anti-Semitism. John Altman ≠ the sort of person who flies an explicitly terrorist flag on the streets of London. The Daily Express ≠ a proper thing.

This whole episode ≠ not a big deal.

Go enjoy the ‘sunshine’.

About the Author
Gabriel Webber is a rabbinic student at Leo Baeck College, London
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