Many have been asking what Flags For Good will do in this time.
Frankly, it’s an honor that you all look to our company in times like these; for flags to help show your support/solidarity, and to know where are the best places to send funds to help the actual crisis. We were founded on the principle of "making tools for people to make positive change in their world."
What I didn’t expect, was to be looked to in determining what the positive direction was.
I take that responsibility (however small and niche it may be) very seriously. I also recognize my privilege, my echo chamber, and I practice media literacy as best I can when making decisions like these. The following is where I, (Michael, not necessarily all employees here), currently am with the recent events and how Flags For Good is responding in this ever-changing crisis.
Why haven’t we made Palestine/Israel flags yet?
Well, we have had a plan on making a collection of ALL international flags sometime soon, but we simply don’t have the shelf space for 170+ new products (though we are actively looking to expand so we can do so).
However, the war in Ukraine screwed this plan up. I made an exception last year and made Ukraine flag because, at some point, our mission to “put tools in the hands of change-makers” and “donate a portion to world-changing causes” had to supersede our new-product pipeline.
This developing situation in the Middle East is the second instance where I think we need to do this.
Why are you so slow to act?
I learned a lot last year with the invasion of Ukraine and how we, as a company, responded. We were slow to make Ukraine flags (more on this at the end). It takes time for organizations to set up relief efforts and refugee services. In the time we waited, we were able to find the World Central Kitchen and push the proceeds from the Ukraine flags to a reputable organization doing actual work on the ground.
As this situation in Gaza develops, we’re taking a similar approach. If I would have jumped to make Israeli flags in solidarity after the Hamas terror attack, I would be eating my words as I watch the Israeli Defense Force (I.D.F.) answer a heinous act of terror with disproportionately worse state-sponsored war crimes. If I would have rushed to make Palestinian flags in the days after the attack, some may take that as us supporting Hamas and their slaughter of civilians (which, of course, we do not).
Here’s what needs to NOT happen. Like ever…:
- I don’t want Flags For Good to make more unneeded noise that drowns out voices that actually need to be heard in times of crisis.
- I don’t ever want to be a brand who just takes a side for PR points.
- I don’t want to politicize human lives, and any person or brand who does so is disgusting.
- I definitely don’t want to be self-important enough to even assume anyone gives a shit what I think anyway.
But most importantly,
- I don’t want to miss the opportunity to use the platform we’ve built to do more “good” in the world.
A Mini-Diatribe About Our Current World
(you can skip this one if you're in a hurry)
We have reached a point where every single issue is being boiled down to us wanting to be on “a winning team.” This lack of nuance is dangerous and dehumanizing when applied to situations like this. It’s easy to apply our feelings of the few in power to all of the citizens under them. The actions of Putin to all Russians, Chinese human rights abuses to all Chinese, Hamas’ killings to all living in Palestine, and Israeli zionism to Jewish people. It would be wrong to look at any of these groups of millions as any one monolith just because it makes it easier for our brains to feel like we are somehow on the right side of history. We have to keep our eyes on the human-ness. Always.
Our Guiding Principle - Human-ness
After days of watching and researching, I have found many amazing organizations all over the spectrum of viewpoints and found the ones that I think respect the humanity in this extremely complex situation that has been brewing for thousands of years. And that to me is the crux of any viewpoint.
Of all of the voices and viewpoints I’ve been consuming, the one that has resonated strongest in my head and my heart the past few days is the organization “Jewish Voice for Peace.” They are the largest progressive Jewish anti-zionist organization in the world, and they are not allowing their grief from the terrorist attacks to be weaponized.
What I resonate with most with their take is that it recognizes the fullness of Jewish identity, while also recognizing the fullness of the Palestinian freedom struggle. They state that they are “guided by a vision of justice, equality, and dignity for all people.” (Fuck yeah.)
Their view, and one that I share, is that anti-zionism is not anti-semitism.
The lopsided truth of the matter
These are not two countries at war. This is not a fair fight.
It is wrong to equate the resistance of the oppressed to the western-backed militarized violence of the oppressor. If you are sickened by the recent murder of 1,500 innocent Israelis, and not doubly sickened by the 3,000+ (and rising) murdered innocent Palestinians, then you aren’t anti-murder, you’re simply against certain people being murdered.
What this recent conflict has awoken the world up to are facts that go back for generations:
It is a fact that Jewish people have been targeted and faced multiple genocides over thousands of years. (Awful.)
It is a fact that Jewish people have the right to exist and express their culture. (As we all should!)
It is a fact that the militant group based in Gaza recently murdered and kidnapped over 1,000 Jewish people. (Sickening)
It is a fact that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens according to the international rules of war. (But hopefully doesn't have to...)
It is a fact that the western-backed zionist movement has forced Palestinians out of their land and placed into what is likened to open-air prisons. (Thanks, Great Britain!)
It is a fact that there is an apartheid happening in Palestine and has been largely ignored by the rest of the world for generations. *Gulp*
It is a fact that the state of Israel has systematically encroached on Palestinian lands with illegal settlements in breach of international treaties. (Not cool.)
It is a fact that the Israeli Defense Force has bombed mosques, hospitals, and other places that civilians are seeking refuge because they assumed they would be safe there. (Super fucked up.)
It is not antisemitic to criticize the Israeli government and its military’s decisions. In fact millions of Jewish people are proud of their heritage, ethnicity and faith, but completely oppose the zionist state of Israel and its actions.
Jewish people = good. The government of Israel = hasn't done very much good for a while...
I was moved by an interview I saw of the mother of a victim of the Hamas terrorist attacks urging the I.D.F. to "not answer dead babies with more dead babies"; to not make more mothers feel what she feels.
Grief from a horrific tragedy caused by terrorists is being used to justify a disproportionate state-sponsored military response. That should sound familiar to us in the USA, and we know the consequences of this mistake all too well.
Now, What is Flags For Good Going To Do?
When you purchase any of our Peace flags, you can now choose from organizations helping the humans caught up in this war. We’ve done our due diligence and found organizations doing on-the-ground aid in Gaza, and Jewish activist organizations who are pushing for a ceasefire.
Currently these organizations are:
We will continue to find and update the best places to donate to so you can select one or many when purchasing our flags.
Speaking of Flags…
🇮🇱 The flag of Israel is the flag of a government who is systematically oppressing humans and perpetuating an apartheid state. Therefore we will not be making Israel flags at this time. We will produce Israeli flags along with all international flags in our upcoming national flag collection once we move into a bigger space (see note above).
🏳️ I’d love to make a flag of the Jewish ethnicity, one that celebrates the Jewish identity and all the history and struggle it comes with. This is in line with our other cultural flags like the Pan-African flag. I recently met a young vexillologist who designed one and I am reaching out to see if I can make them available here soon. (Stay tuned.)
🇵🇸 The flag of Palestine is not the flag of Hamas. (Hamas has their own flag.) The Palestinian flag is currently representing people who are suffering and have suffered for generations. Therefore we will be producing a run of Palestinian flags outside of the upcoming national flag collection to fulfill our mission of putting tools in the hands of change-makers and using proceeds from those sales to donate to organizations doing good in the world.
Our Mission, Now and Always:
When Russia invaded Ukraine, most flag companies saw dollar signs and made blue and yellow flags as fast as possible. We took our time, because we don’t see our flags as just a consumable product to profit from. We see flags as powerful tools for people like you to respond to world events, both physically (with the flag), and monetarily (with the donation we make from your purchase).
I have always said that I hope Flags For Good goes out of business one day. I’d love to stop needing to make Black Lives Matter Flags because one day Black lives will be valued as much as all others. I would love to stop making End Gun Violence flags because the US doesn’t average two mass shootings a day (like we do right now). It would be great to just sell a small amount of Ukraine flags and Israeli flags to proud immigrants and high school Model UN clubs.
But until we get to the place we are headed, as we’re in this messy middle, we use flags to stand up for those who need their voices amplified. We use flags to create the world we want to see.
Thanks for letting us make flags for you. Thanks even more for the epic shit you do with them.