Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wingate Institute students.
The flag before being removed from the dormitory room at the Wingate Institute

Students at the Wingate Institute claim that they were forced to remove an Israeli flag that they hung in their balcony window in the dormitories.

The students, who are studying to become Physical Education teachers, hung the national flag a few days ago, and were requested to remove it by the dormitory administration. When they did not respond, they were sent a text message saying: “Please take down the flag today, kindly. The Institute is a place that invites every person, and therefore this is not the place to hang the flag … Please take care of this urgently!”

Brigadier Orde Wingate

The Orde Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports is a sports training facility established in 1957 and located just south of Netanya, Israel. It is named after Orde Wingate, a heroic British Army officer who saw the creation of a Jewish State as his religious duty and created the Special Night Squads, armed groups formed of British and Haganah volunteers who ambushed Arab terrorists. The Wingate Institute serves as the host facility for numerous Israeli national teams as well as a military training base.

One of the students told Israel Hayom that he was shocked by the school’s demand. “I hung my country’s flag in my country. It makes no sense that they demand that I remove the national flag – which is hung at every official site, and which I can hang in my own home – from the place where I study and that receives state funding.”

“It is interesting to note that Wingate Institute, which claims to promote freedom of speech and opinion, considers hanging the state’s flag the crossing of a red line.”

The Wingate Institute said in response: “Israeli flags are flown regularly at the Wingate Institute in the places set for them. However, the student dormitory rules do not permit the hanging of signs or flags of any kind, in order to preserve the appearance of the Institute and proper order in the public sphere. The requirement of the dormitory management to remove the flag in the manner in which it was placed, on the railing of the building, is legitimate and acceptable.”

The statement admitted that “there may have been a mistake in the wording of the SMS sent to the student, and this was made clear today to the dormitory manager by the director of the Institute.” However, “this does not diminish the respect that the Institute’s directors feel for the flag of Israel and the national symbols of the State of Israel, and we will continue to act in this spirit in the future.”

Maybe not. As it turns out, Sports and Culture Miri Regev (Likud) happens to be very big on Israeli flags. In fact, during her primary campaigns she was known to cross stages holding up and waving a huge Israeli flag, as an expression of her patriotism. So the Wingate Institute might be in for some training in nationalism.

Indeed, Minister Regev has already issued her own statement: “The Israeli flag […] represents our sovereignty and is a source of national pride and pride. There is no place for the Wingate directive, according to which the Israeli flag may not be hung in the dormitories. The Israeli flag will be hung in the students’ dormitories, as is the case throughout the Wingate Institute.”

Poor Wingate officials – they didn’t stand a chance.