GovernmentThe Examiner

New Castle Reaches Consensus to Remove Israeli Flag From Town Hall

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
The Israeli flag has been flying over New Castle Town Hall since shortly after the Oct. 7 attacks, but will be coming down in about another month.

The New Castle Town Board reached consensus last week to take down the Israeli flag from in front of Town Hall by early April and will explore a policy to set future guidelines on flying foreign flags.

Supervisor Victoria Tipp said it was important for the town to show support for Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, the only democracy in the Middle East, as well as standing in solidarity with the town’s sizeable Jewish population.

But as Israel’s war with Hamas continues with no end in sight, the time is approaching to make a decision.

“I would propose that we think of a time frame with which to lower the flag that is respectful of our intent, and there are other ways to support causes that we generally believe in,” Tipp said. “It doesn’t have to be a flag.”

In future meetings, the supervisor indicated that the board will be discussing a policy to help bring some clarity and parameters to flying flags of other nations. The town had also raised the Ukrainian flag following Russia’s invasion two years ago with no fanfare.

During discussion at last week’s board meeting, Councilman Jeremy Saland proposed the town lower the Israeli flag after about 180 days from Oct. 7, which would be sometime during the first week in April. The 180-day mark is significant in Jewish culture because it is a multiple of 18, and the word for the number in Hebrew is the same as the word for life.

Saland said he supports having seen the town raise the flag last fall, but it should come down “sooner rather than later.” While it was done to support the Jewish community, he noted that it has been objectionable for some residents in town, he said.

“There’s a time when trying to bring people together can also bring people apart, and that’s not what we want to see happen,” Saland said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Klein agreed with the general time frame to help start to bring the community together.

“I think 180 days, or sometime between now and then, makes a lot of sense, and my goal is to try and create healing and discussion and togetherness and to have community members turn toward each other in love and care and to hold each other while we have different points of view and feelings on this,” Klein said.

The one board member with a different perspective was Councilwoman Ally Chemtob. She said the town chose to fly the Israeli flag in support of an ally, not to the exclusion of others. As incidents of antisemitism continue to rise, including in New Castle, it is critical to support the Jewish community, particularly when there are more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas.

She would consider siding with the remainder of the board, but believes it isn’t yet the right time.

“I would like the opportunity for the flag to come down honorably and ceremoniously, but it does feel wrong to remove the flag when there are still innocent hostages being held in Gaza and anti-Zionist marches in our town,” Chemtob said.

There is no concrete date when the town will lower the Israeli flag. Tipp said when it does come down it will be given to local synagogues.

Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe of Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester in Chappaqua, said he understands the board’s decision.

“While we appreciate the town’s demonstration of support for Israel following the atrocities of Oct. 7, we accept the decision and understand that this issue cannot remain indefinitely in the public square,” Jaffe said. “We will surely continue to demonstrate our support for Israel and connection with the Jewish people here at Temple Beth El. We pray for more peaceful days ahead.”

Once the flag is removed, longtime town Planning Board member Tom Curley said last week he intends to return to the board. In December, Curley announced that he would be recusing himself until the Israel flag is removed.

In his absence, the town appointed an alternate member who has been filling that seat. Other than an e-mail exchange with Planning Board Chairman Robert Kirkwood, Curley said he has had no contact with town officials during the past three months.

“I have been completely out of the loop, which I thought was not inappropriate, and when the day comes, we’ll sort it out, I suppose,” Curley said.




We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.