The Israel flag bears a white background with two 25-centimeter blue stripes, each 15 centimeters from either edge. In between the stripes is a six-pointed star, or hexagram, formed from two interlocking equilateral triangles. This is known as the Star of David, which initially had no religious significance but grew into a symbolism of Judaism, most especially after the Holocaust. It has been said that blue and white are colors of purity that connote the spirituality of the Jewish people.
The flag dates back to the first Zionist Congress held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897, the year of 2931 on the Jewish calendar. Zionism was the movement to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel where the people would have independent political authority. When the flag was being discussed, Theodor Herzl, leader of the movement, proposed a white banner with seven gold stars. However, his associate, David Wolffsohn, rallied consensus for a flag modeled after the tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl. Wolffsohn proudly stood up to exhibit the cloth of white with blue stripes, and is credited with the idea of adding the Star of David to complete the flag.
The State of Israel was not established until May 1948, at which time some questioned if there should be a new flag. The power and spirit of the Zionist movement prevailed when it was decided in October 1948 that the Zionist flag would be adopted as the flag of the State of Israel.
However, controversy remains and there have been proposals to change the design. Outside the Jewish community, there are those who believe the stripes symbolize territorial aspirations, claiming the stripes represent the Nile and Euphrates rivers with the goal of conquering the land between these rivers. Within the Jewish community, some believe there should be a Zionist flag that represents the Jewish people internationally, distinct from the flag that represents Israel. Suggestions have been made to add gold stars in addition to or in lieu of the Star of David. Some proposed designs have a more secular look.
The Israel flag established in 1948 has survived these differing views and political considerations. In addition to the national flag, there are varied government, military and municipal flags in Israel.