December 2, 2023

By Laurie Kellman | Related Press

The Jordan River is a winding, 200-plus-mile run on the japanese flank of Israel and the occupied West Financial institution. The ocean is the glittering Mediterranean to its west.

However a phrase concerning the house in between, “from the river to the ocean,” has change into a battle cry with new energy to roil Jews and pro-Palestinian activists within the aftermath of Hamas’ lethal rampage throughout southern Israel Oct. 7 and Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

“From the river to the ocean, Palestine will likely be free,” pro-Palestinian activists from London to Rome and Washington chanted within the risky aftermath of Israel’s bloodiest day. Adopting or defending it may be expensive for public figures, akin to U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who was censured by the Home on Tuesday.

However like a lot of the Mideast battle, what the phrase means will depend on who’s telling the story — and which viewers is listening to it.

Many Palestinian activists say it’s a name for peace and equality after 75 years of Israeli statehood and decades-long, open-ended Israeli navy rule over hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Jews hear a transparent demand for Israel’s destruction.

This a lot is obvious: Hamas fighters killed greater than 1,400 folks in Israel and hauled round 240 again to Gaza as hostages within the worst violence towards Jews for the reason that Holocaust. Israel responded with heavy bombardment of Gaza and a floor offensive, that has killed greater than 11,000 Palestinians, based on the Well being Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. The loss of life toll is for certain to rise. The result’s the deadliest spherical of Israeli-Palestinian combating in many years.

Within the uncooked afterburn of the Hamas assaults, the mantra appears to place everybody on edge.


“From the river to the ocean” echoes by pro-Palestinian rallies throughout campuses and cities, adopted by some as a name for a single state on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

By 2012, it was clear that Hamas had claimed the slogan in its drive to say land spanning Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Financial institution.

“Palestine is ours from the river to the ocean and from the south to the north,” Khaled Mashaal, the group’s former chief, stated that yr in a speech in Gaza celebrating the twenty fifth anniversary of the founding of Hamas. “There will likely be no concession on any inch of the land.”

The phrase additionally has roots within the Hamas constitution.

The story behind the phrase is way bigger, and reaches throughout the many years.

Within the months earlier than and in the course of the 1948 struggle, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or have been expelled from what’s now Israel. Many anticipated to return. Israel captured the West Financial institution, together with Gaza and east Jerusalem, within the 1967 struggle. In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza, and in 2007, Hamas claimed the tiny strip from the Palestinian Authority after a violent coup.


Even the shorthand, “from the river to the ocean,” echoes by pro-Palestinian protests, crackles throughout social media and is offered on quite a lot of merch, from sweatshirts to candles.

Ask Jewish folks in London what’s so chilled them concerning the present spike in antisemitism, and lots of will cite what looks as if the ubiquity of the slogan. It’s a signal, they counsel, that there’s a lot to concern.

“Have little doubt that Hamas is cheering these ‘from the river to the ocean’ chants, as a result of a Palestine between the river to the ocean leaves not a single inch for Israel,” learn an open letter signed by 30 Jewish information shops all over the world and launched on Wednesday.

And within the wake of Hamas’ killing of civilians on Oct. 7, they’re not shopping for that the mantra is merely anti-Israel. Backed by teams such because the Anti-Defamation League, they are saying it’s inherently anti-Jewish.

“Nobody can now say that within the eyes of Hamas, a hatred of Israel doesn’t imply a hatred of all Jews,” stated London resident Sarah Nachshen. “The slogans and placards and chants calling for the eradication of Israel and, certainly, all Jews have clearly proven this.”


Tlaib, D-Mich., who has household within the West Financial institution and is Congress’ solely Palestinian-American, posted a video Nov. 3 that featured protesters chanting the slogan.

No stranger to criticism over her rhetoric on the U.S.-Israel relationship, Tlaib defended the slogan.

“From the river to the ocean is an aspirational name for freedom, human rights, and peaceable coexistence, not loss of life, destruction, or hate,” Tlaib tweeted, cautioning that conflating anti-Israel sentiment with antisemitism “silence(s) various voices talking up for human rights.”

Tweeted Yousef Munayyer, head of the Palestine/Israel Program and a senior Fellow at Arab Middle Washington: “There isn’t a sq. inch of the land between the river and the ocean the place Palestinians have freedom, justice and equality, and it has by no means been extra necessary to emphasise this than proper now.”


A lot of the worldwide group helps a two-state resolution, which requires the partition of the land. To many, although, many years of Israeli settlement enlargement have made the truth of a two-state resolution unimaginable.

Proper-wing Israelis have blurred the strains between Israel and the West Financial institution, the place half one million folks now reside in settlements. Many within the Israeli authorities help the annexation of the West Financial institution, and official authorities maps typically make no point out of the “inexperienced line” boundary between the 2.

And the unique platform of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s social gathering, Likud, revealed a model of the slogan, saying that between the ocean and the Jordan River, “there’ll solely be Israeli sovereignty.”


Utilizing the phrase for public figures could be expensive. Tlaib’s censure is a punishment one step in need of expulsion from the Home.

Final month, Vienna police banned a pro-Palestinian demonstration, citing the truth that the phrase “from the river to the ocean” was talked about in invites and characterizing it as a name to violence.

And in Britain, the Labour social gathering issued a short lived punishment to a member of Parliament, Andy McDonald, for utilizing the phrase throughout a rally at which he known as for a cease to bombardment.

“We gained’t relaxation till now we have justice. Till all folks, Israelis & Palestinians, between the river & the ocean can reside in peaceable liberty,” he tweeted.

Then he defined: “These phrases shouldn’t be construed in some other means than they have been meant, specifically as a coronary heart felt plea for an finish to killings in Israel, Gaza, and the occupied West Financial institution, and for all peoples within the area to reside in freedom with out the specter of violence.”