Slogan seeks 'removal of the Jewish people from ancestral homeland'

US House resolution condemns chant ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’

Motion to define the pro-Palestinian slogan as antisemitic passes in a vote of 377 to 44, with 34 Democrats and one Republican voting against

A demonstrator displays a placard with 'From the river to the sea' during a rally in solidarity with Palestinians at Oranienplatz Square in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, Germany, on November 11, 2023. (Tobias Schwarz/ AFP)
A demonstrator displays a placard with 'From the river to the sea' during a rally in solidarity with Palestinians at Oranienplatz Square in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, Germany, on November 11, 2023. (Tobias Schwarz/ AFP)

The United States House of Representatives passed a resolution on Tuesday condemning the popular pro-Palestinian chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as antisemitic.

The motion passed by a vote of 377 to 44, and was the result of a bipartisan effort led by Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Jared Moskowitz of Florida, along with Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito from New York. The motion was opposed by 34 Democrats and one Republican.

The resolution posits that the pro-Palestinian chant often heard at protests calling for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against the Hamas terror group is an “antisemitic call to arms with the goal of the eradication of the State of Israel, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

The slogan “seeks to deny Jewish people the right to self-determination and calls for the removal of the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland,” the resolution text continues, alleging that it is a “rallying cry” that promotes violence against both the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry, and “does a disservice to Israelis, Palestinians and all those in the region who seek peace.”

Presenting the motion to the House, D’Esposito charged that “this slogan communicates one thing and one thing only. It is not human rights, and it is certainly not peace. It is the violent destruction of the State of Israel.”

Among those who rejected the resolution were Progressive House Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush, who have all been outspoken in criticism of Israel amid its war with Hamas in Gaza. Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, a self-described libertarian, also voted against the motion.

File: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, is joined by Rep. Cori Bush, a Montana Democrat, far left, and Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, far right, as she speaks at an event to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, at the Capitol in Washington, December 14, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress, was censured by the House in November 2023 for her rhetoric in the wake of the October 7 Hamas massacre in southern Israel, including for her use of the term “from the river to the sea.”

She had previously claimed that she uses the phrase to describe a democratic outcome for all in the region, saying she sees it as “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction or hate.”

Following the motion’s successful passage on Tuesday, Gottheimer praised the resolution for making it clear that “the slogan calls for the total eradication of the Jewish, democratic state of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people.”

“As members of Congress, we have a right — and a responsibility — to condemn disgusting, divisive and dehumanizing chants. I will never stop fighting against prejudice and hate — in any form,” he added.

He noted that prominent Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, have also condemned the chant as antisemitic.

Not all Jewish organizations, however, agreed with the move to define the protest chant as antisemitic. Americans for Peace Now, the US sister organization of the left-wing Peace Now group in Israel, accused those who voted for the motion of “feeding red meat to trolls.”

“Absolute failure by everyone who voted for this,” the organization wrote on X. “Disagree or dislike the phrase as much as you would like, but you can’t legislate a slogan away.”

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