Right-wing media equate Palestinian flag with Nazism and support for Hamas

Conservative pundits are attempting to conflate displays of Palestinian pride and solidarity with support for terrorism and hatred of Jewish people

Right-wing media outlets are equating displays of the Palestinian flag with support for Hamas — the organization that carried out an attack on Israeli military and civilian targets on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people — falsely construing the display of Palestinian pride and solidarity as a proclamation of support for violence or hatred of Jewish people.

In response to the October 7 attack, Israel’s air and ground operation has reportedly killed over 18,600 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them women and children. Throughout the United States and internationally, supporters of Palestinian liberation have demanded a ceasefire and an end to Israel’s occupation in demonstrations that often prominently feature the Palestinian flag.

Almost immediately after Hamas’ attack, right-wing pundits sought to mischaracterize the flag as a symbol of support for Hamas, hatred of Jewish people, or Nazism. Many of the attacks centered on Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the only Palestinian-American member of Congress, and her decision to display a Palestinian flag outside her Congressional office.

  • On October 12, Fox News host Sean Hannity said, “I think anyone that’s carrying, these days, anything representing the Palestinian flag is doing it to support Hamas.”
  • On the October 17 edition of former Fox host Megyn Kelly’s show, conservative writer and senior-editor-at-large for Newsweek Josh Hammer claimed “the Palestinian flag … has supplanted the swastika as the symbol of Jewish annihilationism."
  • On October 19, Fox News’ Jesse Watters argued that because Tlaib had “planted a Palestinian flag outside of her office” she had been “radicalized, you can see it in her eyes,” before concluding: “They have a Hamas problem in the House.” 
  • On the November 6 edition of Fox’s The Faulkner Focus, contributor Tammy Bruce said that Tlaib “has been very up front about her loyalty, and she’s had the so-called Palestinian flag outside of her door in Congress." Faulkner responded: “If you support terrorists, aren’t you a terrorist?”
  • The next day, Fox’s Brian Kilmeade said of pro-Palestine protesters, “When you go out there with the Palestinian flag and Hamas logo, let us understand: You are pro-hostage, you’re pro-chopping up individuals, you’re pro-rape, you’re pro-unprovoked assault and carnage.”
  • On December 7, Newsmax’s Chris Plante echoed Bruce, saying, “The so-called Palestinian flag, at this moment in history, is the Hamas flag — you’re cheering for Hamas, you’re parading, you’re threatening people on college campuses for Hamas.”

Tlaib has been the target of many anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian attacks. On October 10, Fox News’ Lawrence Jones interviewed Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who previously volunteered for the Israeli Defense Forces. When Jones asked about Tlaib’s displaying of the flag, Mast immediately replied by saying of Palestinians, “They’re Arab Nazis.” The next month, Mast would echo right-wing media and deny the existence of “innocent Palestinian civilians,” saying, “I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians.’” 

Also on October 10, Hannity argued that Tlaib’s flag was an example of the “new rise of virulent anti-semitism.” Later that month, Fox News’ Jason Chaffetz said that The Squad — shorthand for Tlaib and several other progressive lawmakers — “hate Jews,” before claiming Tlaib's flag was proof of her ignorance.

The next month, Chaffetz again referenced Tlaib’s flag, suggesting it was proof of hypocrisy because if someone was “killing a Jew” she was “just fine with it.”