New Jersey Palestinian flag flap breezes over

The Palestinian flag is raised above Paterson, N.J. City Hall on Sunday, May 19 as the city declared Palestinian American Day. (screen grab via YouTube)

The city of Paterson, N.J. — whose southern area is called “Little Ramallah” for the large number of Palestinian Arab expats – raised the Palestinian flag above city hall on Sunday May 19 as it proclaimed Palestinian-American Day.

According to the The Bergen Record, the occasion might mark first time that the Palestinian flag has flown above any American city hall.

For Israel, that moment likely came in May 1948, when Philadelphia Mayor Bernard Samuel raised the blue and white flag atop city hall.

Back to present day Paterson, as Twitter users and other online commenters caught wind of the event, officials stood by their decision.

“If they’re citizens of the city of Paterson, they have every right to raise the flag,” Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones told The Record regarding the event, which drew about 150 people on a rainy day.

On Tuesday, local and state officials attending the event told that publication that they hadn’t received any complaints about the flag specifically.

This isn’t the first time North Jersey’s celebration of Palestinian-Americans has been noted by JTA.

In May 1980, JTA reported a scuffle that broke out at a larger celebration of Palestinian-Americans in New Jersey. As it turns out, the incident was precipitated by a fight over flags:

A scuffle between Palestinian marchers and a group of Jewish war veterans erupted Sunday when the former grabbed Israeli and American flags, overpowering the blockade set up by state police. The march, held in North Bergen because of its concentration of Palestinians, was to mark International Palestinian Day. Judge Geoffrey Gaulkin of New Jersey Superior Court ruled last Friday that North Bergen officials had unlawfully denied the Palestinians a parade permit. About 800 Palestinian participated in the parade.

Adam Soclof is JTA’s Associate Director of Outreach and Partnerships and coordinates presentations and advertising/marketing opportunities for the news agency. A digital archives enthusiast, Adam has authored more than 300 blog posts for The JTA Archive Blog and was responsible for its social media presence and weekly newsletter, This Week in Jewish History. Adam has presented at several conferences in the form of game shows, interactive social media campaigns and Powerpoint presentations. Follow him on Twitter: @hypersem