Home > israel, judaism, Palestine, politics, spirituality > Give me back my Star of David!

Give me back my Star of David!

On pages relating to justice for Palestine I see artwork using the star of david in creative ways to express how the state of Israel is oppressing Palestinians. And of course the Israeli state, with decades of unjust, murderous policies has the star of david as the main symbol on it’s flag.

Being Jewish is important to me spiritually. The star of david is one of our religious symbols, and though personally I prefer others, such as l’chaim (“life”) and the menorah, I still associate the star with my spiritual and ethnic practice.

But the state is Israel has inextricably bound that same symbol into political associations with Zionism. And so naturally the antizionist movement is cleverly and creatively subverting it.

I can’t speak for other Jews who reject Zionism as a part of their religious identity, but for me I find it horrible. I squarely lay the blame on the side of the aggressor – it is the Israeli state and its supporters who first shackled the star of david to the Israeli flag. It was and is they who are most vehement that to be Jewish one must also ascribe to the political ideology of zionism. The other side, who coopts the star in political artwork critiquing zionism is responding to the association laid down by the Israeli state.

But while all this is being played out, I just feel like screaming out (and hence this post!) “LEAVE MY RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS ALONE!” I am here, an antizionist Jew, and I am far from being an annomoly. That symbol is as much mine as every other Jew’s. It has spiritual meaning. My spirituality is not tied to a particular politics but is about my relationship with the All. The star of david is a symbol if that, and binding it to a man-made state, and to the political realm, is a theft and assault of my birthright as a Jew.

  1. February 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Hi Fleabite

    Though I do understand your frustration, I share it myself – more about that later – I have to react to your statement “leave my religious symbols alone.” They are simply not yours, but ours, belonging to all Jews.

    That aside. Religious symbols often take part in flags, see for example the Scandinavian flags, having a cross in all of them, without anybody needing to attack those symbols, simply because people do know how to differ between a country/nation and a religious symbol (I remember how high the waves went during the Muhammad-drawings, but now even once did I see examples on people having to misuse the cross). The reason people attack the Magen David has less to do with Israel than it has to do with the – unfortunate – widespread hatred to Jews in general among those who attack Israel (and Jews) this way. I’m not talking about criticism but outright attacks.

    That said I do agree with you that Israel take a wrong approach to Jews and Judaism. Calling itself a Jewish state for example, is an example of grave stupidity and ignorance, especially considering that nobody cares to define what it means, when Israel is called “Jewish.” Also the policy of stating that all Jews belong to Israel (and Israel alone) is problematic and to be criticized. A Jew belong where he feels at home, until the day of Moshiah, should he ever come (I personally believe this).

    I get angered and frustrated too when I see people misuse the Magen David in “creative ways,” but I get angered and frustrated at them, not at Israel. They know all too well what they are doing.

    All the best.

    • February 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm


      Was hoping to be able to respond properly before now, but have been super busy and not sure if I’ll have time before the weekend so wanted to at least let you know this :

      1) I’m really glad you commented. I’m interested in dialogue with other Jews about these issues and in the Jewish community where I live I find that honest, respectful discussions about Israel are shut down.

      2) I totally agree that Jewish symbols, and the rest of our religious inheritance are for all Jews. Sorry if that wasn’t clear – I was playing about with childish language, but it was a serious subject and it probably didn’t read how it sounds in my head! I meant that they are *also* mine, that I also have a claim to them and it feels like this tug of war is going on and my relationship with Judaism is being denied. I was trying to only speak for myself, and I’m not a great writer, so sorry if it seemed like I was denying other Jews what I’m complaining about being denied myself!

      3) I hadn’t thought about crosses on flags before like that, thank you. :) You’re right, they don’t have same associations. Although I have seen flags subverted and used to make political points :

      I’ll think about this a bit more. I guess having an identification / relationship with the Magen David meant I noticed it and had an emotional reaction whereas these others I just thought of more abstractly.

      “A Jew belong where he feels at home, until the day of Moshiah, should he ever come.”
      Totally. :) Personally I really enjoy /visiting/ Israel, but my home is Scotland.

      Reminds me of this which my Rabbi at Uni brought up this week
      “4. So said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exile which I have exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon: ד.
      5. Build houses and dwell [therein], and plant gardens and eat their produce. ה.
      6. Take wives and beget sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to men, and they shall bear sons and daughters, and multiply there and be not diminished. ו.
      7. And seek the peace of the city where I have exiled you and pray for it to the Lord, for in its peace you shall have peace.” (Jeremiah, 29. http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16026/jewish/Chapter-29.htm )


  2. March 22, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Dear Alice

    I’m terrible sorry I never got back, but suddenly I just have to go crazy with exams and the new semester.


    I know what you mean. Not that I have experienced the same, but judging from many Jewish reactions and comments around I can imagine that being the wrong place makes it difficult.


    Again, I do understand what you are saying. Though I haven’t experienced the same as you have, or at least in the same context, I have had some hard times with my own relation to my religion. Or, I think, it is more correct to say that I’ve had hard times with my relation to other religious Jews. I’m mostly being challenged by other religious Jews, mostly “Haredim,” who feel that they are the most prominent deciders for our religion, and how we should live it. I also have troubles with extremist rightwingers, but that are in other terms, I simply can’t stand when people prescribe some forms of arguments to one group of people, but deny to do the same to themselves.
    And don’t feel sorry. I should probably have been a little more understanding, or at least not let myself be provoked;o)


    I like the examples of the flags you found:o).

    I don’t think that all Jews are supposed to make ‘Aliyah before the coming of Moshiah. I mean, that is one of the signs of his coming, no? But of course, part of the religious-Zionist belief probably is that by having all Jews making ‘Aliyah, that would begin or provoke his coming. I don’t know if there is a single “religious-Zionist” belief at all.

    And, if Israel really want all Jews to move here, then the government certainly should a little more focus and energy on improving the society. Though I would love to see all Jews here, I certainly understand that not all Jews want to move here.

    All the best

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