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Alexandria Director of Elections apologizes for Israeli flag behind voting machine

Picture on the CAIR website of an Israeli flag hung at an Alexandria polling station (image via Council on American-Islamic Relations)

(Updated 2:30 p.m.) In most years, an Israeli flag at the Beth El Hebrew Congregation precinct might not draw attention on an election day, but with the catastrophic civilian death toll in Gaza, it raised some eyebrows on Super Tuesday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) put out a release yesterday (Tuesday) calling for an investigation of a report that an Israeli flag was hung near voting machines inside a polling station at a synagogue.

“According to a complaint filed with CAIR, a local voter in Alexandria went to her polling place and noticed the flag above the voting machine,” CAIR said in the release. “There were no other Israeli flags present inside the room, leading the complainant to conclude that the flag had been deliberately placed over the voting machine to make a political statement.”

In a statement to ALXnow, Director of Elections & General Registrar Angela Maniglia-Turner said the layout of the polling place was not meant to send a political or religious message and apologized for making voters feel uncomfortable:

During the afternoon of today’s primary election, the City of Alexandria’s Office of Voter Registration & Elections was made aware of an Israeli flag located behind a voting machine at the Beth El Hebrew Congregation precinct. The layout of the polling place was not meant in any way to send a political or religious message. To the extent that any voter was made to feel uncomfortable by the location of the voting equipment, we sincerely apologize.

The Beth El Hebrew Congregation has partnered with our office since 1964. During this time, we have cooperated with many diverse faith-based organizations to provide locations for Alexandria residents to cast their ballot and participate in the electoral process, while respecting the religious and cultural beliefs of our hosts.

Moving forward we will continue to work with all our partners to ensure a welcoming atmosphere in all 32 of the City of Alexandria’s election precincts.

The question over the Israeli flag at the polling place comes at a time when many city public comment sessions are filled with — alongside opponents to the Potomac Yard arena — locals encouraging the city to support a ceasefire resolution.

The comments of a woman went viral after speaking at a City Council hearing earlier this month.

“The United States is abetting a genocide,” the person said. “I should not have to say anything past this. There is no greater threat to this world, there is no greater crime. I know this inherently as a Jewish member of this city. I am no longer able to say this eloquently or diplomatically.”

In November, students at Alexandria City High School staged a walk out in protest against the Israel-Hamas war. A ceasefire resolution.

A ceasefire resolution was raised at the Human Rights Commission (HRC) but was tabled pending a meeting with the City Attorney. Members of the HRC told ALXnow that the City Attorney declined to meet with the Commission.

Protests have been held in Arlington but Arlington County Board members turned down a request to issue a resolution calling for a cease-fire.

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