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New Rochelle City Council votes to keep Israeli flag flying outside City Hall

New Rochelle City Council votes to keep Israeli flag flying outside City Hall
New Rochelle City Council votes to keep Israeli flag flying outside City Hall 02:02

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- A New Rochelle City Council meeting was nearly full Tuesday night as the council discussed whether or not an Israeli flag should be flying outside City Hall.

A victory for those who showed their support for flying the flag.

"We wanted to be supportive and show our presence this week," New Rochelle resident Jayne Peister said.

It was almost a packed house with members from the community quietly waving the Israeli flag in solidarity after word got out members of the council were quietly discussing removing the flag from City Hall.

"I still do not understand why my fellow councilmembers thought it was important to remove the flag so abruptly and secretly," Councilmember Albert Tarantino Jr. said.

Last week's meeting was contentious, with speaker after speaker saying flying the flag is offensive.

"It is divisive, it is illegal, and therefore, it must come down," one person said.

"Is it in solidarity with innocent victims? If so, why are we not flying the flag of the Palestinians for the 30,000 innocent civilians that have been murdered since October?" New Rochelle resident Joan Glickman said.

It's Yadira Ramos-Herbert's first year as mayor.  On Tuesday, she shared stories of her visit to Israel and acknowledged that the city has no policy on flags.

"I do apologize for the clunkiness of the lack of the policy for causing any sense of not feeling safe or welcomed in our wonderful city," she said.

"Some of the members who voted for this tonight were all for taking the flag down," New Rochelle resident Vince Malfetano said.

Tuesday night's decision comes about a month after antisemitic graffiti was spray-painted on two storefronts near the New Rochelle-Scarsdale border, leading to a protest from the community.

The council voted unanimously to keep the Israeli flag up until Feb. 27, when it'll then be replaced with the Pan-African flag. A ceremony for the transition will be held on Feb. 29, and moving forward, the council will have to adopt a flag policy.

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