A Banner Day At City Hall


The flag in the background with the sky-blue stripes and Magen David, now torn and battered and stained, once flew in Lower Manhattan.

The Israeli flag was among the banners of several nations that hung in the entrance of one of the World Trade Center buildings, representing countries that had commercial interests in the landmark skyscrapers.

After 9/11, the flag, one of thousands of damaged artifacts recovered in the rubble of the destroyed buildings, was taken to a warehouse on Staten Island, where government authorities sought to determine ownership of the various items. Its identity ascertained by a Police Department forensics officer, it remained in an evidence locker until this week.

Informed of the find, Consul General Arye Mekel requested that it be handed over to the State of Israel.

This week Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres, second from left, came to New York, as part of a two-day public relations visit during the war in Lebanon, and the flag was returned to its rightful — if not actual — owner. In a City Hall ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, presented the flag to Peres who accepted it on behalf of the Israeli government.

Also at the ceremony were Malcolm Hoenlein, second from right, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Mekel, right, and Michael Miller, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

“As a token of our enduring friendship, we are returning this Israeli flag, which was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “Just as the world was with us in our most desperate hour, so too are the people of New York with Israel in their fight against terrorism. We deeply hope the fighting ends as soon as possible so that all innocent people affected by this tragedy will be safe.”

The mayor had ordered the flag repaired and framed in a glass case.

Now the flag is again on display in New York City, this time in Mekel’s office.