What Does 'From The River To The Sea' Mean And Why Was It Deemed Unacceptable? | Explained
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From the River to the Sea - As the Israel-Hamas war enters Day 36, this six-word phrase has taken the world by storm. Heard across various pro-Palestine marches, this phrase, which has its origins in the Palestinian liberation Movement, has kept many on edge this past few months.
Following the Hamas Attacks of October 7, 2023, this phrase was deemed antisemitic and unacceptable. Anyone chanting it was accused of supporting terrorism instead of freedom for Palestine.
House Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, was also censured and accused of calling for the destruction of Israel when she chanted the slogan during a session. Furthermore, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman also banned the use of the slogan "from the river to the sea". But amid all these censures and bans, what does the phrase really mean?
When did the phase emerge?
The phrase "from the river to the sea" has been in use since the 1960s to advocate for Palestinian freedom and liberation.
It was used as part of the Palestinian liberation movement, which called for freedom from Israeli occupation and Arab states such as Egypt and Jordan.
However, the phrase was soon adopted by militant groups such as Hamas upon their founding and has been used in an extremist manner. Hamas was founded in 1988 but was not used officially by the group until 2017.
Which side does the phrase belong to?
The phrase originated during the Palestinian liberation movement, Israel's ruling party - Likud also incorporated the phrase as part of their 1977 platform.
When Israel began using this phrase, they altered it to mean between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty". The Likud party, whose current Chairman is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, does not recognize the right for a Palestinian state to exist.
What does the phrase mean?
The very literal meaning of the phrase refers to the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea - which includes present-day Israel and Palestinian Enclaves West Bank and Gaza. The complete phrase reads - "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free".
Simply put, the meaning of the phrase depends on which side is saying it and who is hearing it. For Palestinians and their supporters, the phrase stands for freedom from 75 years of occupation and an independent land for them.
But for the Jewish community, the phrase vouches for the destruction of Israel. As per the Jews, a Palestine between the river to the sea “leaves not a single inch for Israel”.