Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Sara Swann
By Sara Swann December 5, 2023

No, a past Palestinian flag didn’t feature the Star of David

If Your Time is short

  • Middle East history experts told PolitiFact that the blue-and-white flag with a Star of David represents the Zionist movement, not Palestine.

  • From 1922 to 1948, the Palestinian territory was under British mandate, so the Union Jack was flown in official capacities. Palestinians had their own flag, but it did not feature the Star of David.

Photos of a flag that’s half blue, half white with a gold Star of David in the center have gone viral online. The flag resembles Israel’s current flag, but social media users are claiming it used to represent Palestine.

A Dec. 1 Instagram post shared a photo of this flag with "Palestine" written beneath it. The post’s caption read, "Palestinian flag prior to 1948. Enough said."

Another Instagram post, shared Nov. 30, shared a similar image of this flag with text beneath it that said, "Flag of Palestine 1939." The caption on this post read, "You want to free Palestine? Yet this was the flag of Palestine before modern day Israel was reborn in 1948. Like you like to say, ‘educate yourself’!"

(Screengrabs from Instagram)

These posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Middle East history experts told PolitiFact that the flag in the Instagram posts represents the Zionist movement, not Palestine.

Joel Beinin, an emeritus Middle East history professor at Stanford University, said this claim was "nonsense." The flag in the posts was "one of many proposed Zionist or later Israeli flags."

Featured Fact-check

Tamir Sorek, a Pennsylvania State University history professor, agreed with Beinin.

"Based on its symbolism, I can tell with confidence that this particular design has never been used or proposed by anyone from within the Arab-Palestinian national movement," Sorek said.

From 1922 to 1948, Britain ruled over the Palestinian territory. During this time, experts said the Union Jack, sometimes with the word Palestine on it, was flown in official capacities. An example of this flag is on the British Imperial War Museum’s website.

While under British mandate, Palestinians had their own flag, which is similar to the Palestinian flag seen today — three horizontal stripes of black, white and green with a red triangle on the left.

Although there were some variations over the years, the Zionist movement, which advocated for an independent Jewish state, also had its own flag: white with blue stripes at the top and bottom and a blue Star of David in the center. This became Israel’s official flag in 1948, when Israel was officially declared an independent state. 

Reverse-image searches on the flags shown in the Instagram posts brought us to a 2015 Wikimedia photo that claims to show countries’ flags in a 1939 edition of the Larousse French dictionary. The photo was uploaded to Wikimedia by a Russian site, which credited a different website that no longer exists.

When we asked French publishing company Éditions Larousse to verify this image’s authenticity, a spokesperson said it could not be found in the company’s archives. Larousse said the flag appears to represent the Jewish community of Palestine at the time. (The spokesperson’s response was translated from French using Google Translate.)

We rate the claim that the Palestinian flag before 1948 included the Star of David False.

Our Sources

Instagram post (archived), Dec. 1, 2023

Instagram post (archived), Nov. 30, 2023

Email interview with Joel Beinin, emeritus professor of Middle East history at Stanford University, Dec. 4, 2023

Email interview with Tamir Sorek, history professor at Pennsylvania State University, Dec. 4, 2023

Email interview with Rashid Khalidi, modern Arab studies professor at Columbia University, Dec. 4, 2023

Email interview with Liora Halperin, international studies and history professor at the University of Washington, Dec. 4, 2023

Email interview with Éditions Larousse spokesperson, Dec. 5, 2023

Reverse image searches through Google Images, Yandex and Tineye, Dec. 4, 2023

United Nations, "History of the Question of Palestine," accessed Dec. 4, 2023

Britannica, "Palestine - British Mandate, Zionism, Conflict," Dec. 4, 2023

British Imperial War Museum, "British Government (Palestine High Commission) Union flag," 1946

Wikimedia Commons, "Palestinian flag 1939," April 6, 2015

Getty Images, "A mother and daughter holding a Palestinian flag and sign," Dec. 2, 2023

Getty Images, "Britain-Israel-Palestinian-Conflict," Nov. 26, 2023 

Reuters, "Fact Check: Palestinian official flag in 1939 did not show Star of David," Nov. 30, 2023

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Sara Swann

No, a past Palestinian flag didn’t feature the Star of David

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up