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.

Read more at Debate Link

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

 

Spain’s Anti-Israel Agenda

What interest does Madrid have in the creation of a Palestinian state? Elliott Abrams raised this question a few days ago, when discussing ongoing Spanish efforts to block the transfer of arms to Israel. He points to multiple opinion surveys suggesting that Spain is among Europe’s most anti-Semitic countries:

The point of including that information here is to explain the obvious: Spain’s anti-Israel extremism is not based in fancy international political analyses, but instead reflects both the extreme views of hard-left parties in the governing coalition and a very traditional Spanish anti-Semitism. Spain’s government lacks the moral standing to lecture the state of Israel on how to defend itself against terrorist murderers. Its effort to deprive Israel of the means of defense is deeply immoral. Every effort should be made to prevent these views from further infecting the politics and foreign policy of the European Union and its member states.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel, Palestinian statehood, Spain