TEL AVIV – Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously to criminalize displaying the Israeli flag in public, likely in response to September’s Kurdish independence referendum for which Israel expressed open support.
Kurds waved Israeli flags at numerous rallies in a show of appreciation to the Jewish state, which was the only country to support the motion. When late dictator Saddam Hussein was in power, Israel publicly supported Kurdish uprisings.
According to the Washington Post, Iraqi and Iranian officials have voiced their suspicions that the Kurdish independence movement was orchestrated by Israel in order to expedite Iraq’s breakup.
Shiite lawmaker Hamid al-Khudary said he introduced the motion to reactivate a lapsed law banning “the Zionist entity flag,” which he said is a “dangerous phenomenon.”
The flag’s appearance at the Kurdish rallies “insulted the reputation of Iraq and its people considering that Israel is an enemy state to Iraq,” he said in a phone interview with the Washington Post.
Iraq has a somewhat ambiguous attitude towards the Jewish state.
Even though it has no diplomatic ties with Israel, Iraqis have increasingly expressed support for Israel, most recently during August’s Temple Mount turmoil. As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, several Iraq/Israel friendship forums on social media exist and Israel’s foreign ministry has noted hundreds of messages of support from Iraqis. However, much of the support may come not out of love for Israel so much as animosity towards the Palestinians. According to reports, 1,200 Palestinians have committed serious attacks on Iraqi soil and killed hundreds of Iraqi citizens.
On the other hand, Iraq’s strengthening relationship with Iran has also bolstered anti-Israel voices. The Israeli flag is trampled on and burned every year on Quds Day, an Iranian transplant that celebrates Jerusalem as a Muslim city.