Palestinian flag lodged in public Hanukkah menorah in Connecticut sparks outcry

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A person briefly hung a Palestinian flag from a Hanukkah menorah in a public area, prompting widespread condemnation and a police investigation.

The unidentified person scaled the menorah at a public green near the Yale University campus during a nearby pro-Palestinian rally Saturday and lodged a Palestinian flag between the candles. Police said the menorah was not vandalized and they were not sure if the incident will be categorized as a hate crime.

But the placement of the flag touched a nerve at a time of rising fears of antisemitism since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. In particular, universities across the U.S. have been accused of failing to protect Jewish students.

Public officials denounced the act at a news conference on Monday.

“I’m proud of the group that has come here today to say enough is enough. Not in America, not anywhere, as long as we speak out and stand up,” Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal said at the news conference.

Yale President Peter Salovey said in a prepared statement that placing a Palestinian flag on the menorah “conveys a deeply antisemitic message to Jewish residents of New Haven.”

Organizers of the protest also condemned the act, which they described in a post on social media as an “antisemitic action of an individual unaffiliated with any of the groups present.”

Jake Dressler, an area attorney who witnessed the act, said the person who lodged the flag was criticized by others who were part of the rally on Saturday.

“His fellow protesters were saying, ‘Get down, get down. It looks bad for us.’ And then within a minute, he ... jumped back up and pulled it down.”