Uprootedpalestinians's Blog

Forget Palestine, focus on ISIL

Danger Signals

The arrival of ISIL makes an Israeli-Palestinian settlement even more urgent. But Hamas is not ISIL, and ISIL is not Hamas.

By Gershom Gorenberg, American Prospect
Autumn 2014

In Hebrew, “black flag” refers to an immediate, glaring warning—as in, the “black flag of illegality” that figuratively flies over a military order that a soldier must refuse, or the actual flag put up by lifeguards to signal that the sea is too stormy for swimming.

The symbolism of the color is entirely arbitrary. In Arab culture, a black flag recalls the battle standards of the Prophet Muhammad and of the Abbasid caliphate*, which ruled from Baghdad over a vast Islamic empire. Traditionally, the connotations are positive. In recent months, though, the two meanings have converged. Inscribed with the words “There is no god but God,” a black banner is now a symbol of danger…

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