Why the Slogan “From the River to the Sea . . . ” Is a Call for the Destruction of Israel

At an event at the UN last week dedicated to lamenting the creation of a Jewish state, the Temple University professor and regular CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill gave a speech condemning Israel. He concluded by declaring, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Those familiar with this popular slogan know it to be a call for Israel’s violent destruction. Hill—who has since lost his job at CNN and issued a public apology—insisted that his words were innocuous: what could possible be objectionable about advocating liberty for the people who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea? Quite a lot, replies David Schraub:

All [the slogan’s defenders] want, in Hill’s articulation, is a secular . . . state—not a “Jewish” state or a “Palestinian” state, but a state for all its citizens where all those permanently residing between the river and the sea enjoy the same rights. Just as America didn’t stop being America when it passed the Fourteenth Amendment or the Civil Rights Act, neither would Israel cease to be Israel if it changed its laws to provide for that vision of secular liberal equality. It would simply be an Israel with better laws and institutions than Israel has now. . . .

One interesting feature of this rejoinder, however, is that it suggests that the slogan . . . could just as easily run “from the river to the sea, Israel will be free.” Indeed, on a purely semantic level, that would seem to be the more accurate expression. The state that currently exists, and where the objectionable unfreeness currently obtains, is Israel. . . .

Nonetheless, I suspect that most of those who chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” would reject the substitution. This suggests that there is a replacement going on: Israel-with-better-laws is not viewed as the same thing as a free Palestine. . . . The [tell] is that the slogan does not refer to freeing Palestinians. It speaks of freeing Palestine—a territory, not a people. . . . When we speak of freeing a territory, we usually are speaking of a land that is under foreign dominion. . . . And this also explains why a slogan saying “Israel will be free” rings so odd: free from whom? . . .

If the entire presence of Israel anywhere from the river to the sea is an alien imposition on Palestine, then the net result is that Jews are deemed foreigners everywhere from the river to the sea. [In other words], the goal isn’t the creation of a Palestinian state but the elimination of a Jewish homeland.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Debate Link

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat