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Milton Select Board delays vote on flying Palestinian flag

A gazebo on the lawn of Milton Town Hall.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

The Select Board in Milton took no action Friday on a proposal to fly the Palestinian flag at a town gazebo next to an Israeli flag raised there after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks, instead agreeing to hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the matter further.

The board had initially held a Zoom meeting on Friday to vote on the flag proposal, brought forward by Milton Muslim Neighbors, a nonprofit, and supported by at least one local rabbi.

But after about an hour of discussion, the board tabled the matter until Tuesday. The Israeli flag is scheduled to come down at the end of the month.


“Putting up the Palestinian flag will not show support for the civilians that reside in Gaza or the Muslim community,” said Selectwoman Roxanne Musto during the meeting. “It will show that you support modern-day antisemitism, terrorism, and genocide. This will further divide a wonderful community.”

Selectman Richard G. Wells Jr., the town’s former police chief, said he had raised the idea of flying the Palestinian flag at a previous meeting after speaking with the Muslim Neighbors group, which he said was trying to provide “a voice for humanity” with the gesture.

But Wells said he now supports leaving the Israeli flag up until Nov. 30 as originally planned and then replacing it for the month of December with a flag that simply says “Peace.”

“That’s the most human gesture I could think of,” Wells said. “I thought about it all night.”

Musto initially seconded Wells’s motion that the panel vote on the peace flag idea at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 28, but that motion was ultimately withdrawn.

Instead, the board decided to reconvene Tuesday to decide the flag issue. On a related track, the board will also vote on whether to issue a separate statement, drafted by board chairman Michael F. Zullas, that calls for dialogue rather than flying the Palestinian and Israeli flags side by side.


“In the immediate aftermath of the terror perpetrated on Israeli citizens and international workers by Hamas on Oct. 7, we sought to provide support for our Jewish neighbors” by flying the Israeli flag, the statement reads in part. “In the ensuing weeks, it has become clear that our Muslim and Palestinian friends are suffering as well from the ongoing violence in the region.”

The statement also signals the board’s intention to “schedule a community forum led by the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association and Milton Muslim Neighbors to provide more inclusive and tangible support for all those affected by the horrors going on now in the Middle East.”

Milton Muslim Neighbors could not immediately be reached for comment.

More than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed when Hamas stormed Israel on Oct. 7 and also abducted some 240 men, women and children.

The brutal attack has prompted a retaliatory campaign of relentless Israeli bombing and ground incursions into Gaza that have killed 11,400 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble.

In North Andover, the Palestinian flag was raised over the town common Tuesday, the morning after the select board approved a resident’s request that sparked intense debate.

On Oct. 16, resident Selma Khayal submitted a request to have the flag displayed on the town common from Nov. 7 to Dec. 7. The Israeli flag had flown at the common after the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 and remained there until Nov. 9.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Material from prior Globe stories was also used.

Travis Andersen can be reached at