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.

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

 

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security