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Congress passes resolution declaring ‘From the River to the Sea’ antisemitic

Before she was elected in 2022, she called Israel “an example of what a young, vibrant democracy looks like, and we should be supporting it.”

Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.). Source: Screenshot.
Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.). Source: Screenshot.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on April 16 declaring the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” antisemitic. 

Forty-four members of Congress, including Reps. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Ill.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), voted against it. Forty-three of those votes came from Democrats, while one came from Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of West Virginia.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Anthony D’Esposito (D-N.Y.) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) led the bipartisan resolution.

“Our resolution makes it clear that the slogan ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is antisemitic and calls for the total eradication of the Jewish, democratic State of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people,” said Gottheimer.

“From the river to the sea” refers to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and the slogan has been chanted on city streets and university campuses by anti-Israel protesters since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

Before she was elected as a congresswoman in 2022, Kamlager-Dove told the Jewish Journal that Israel is “an example of what a young, vibrant democracy looks like, and we should be supporting it,” and that she didn’t subscribe to the anti-Israel rhetoric in her party from politicians like Omar.

“Who would I be to marginalize an important, vocal, engaged and vulnerable population in my community?” she said at the time. “I don’t know Ilhan [Omar]’s constituency, but I wouldn’t stand for it. We have an obligation to talk about the consequences of hateful language on all sides within our party, as well as outside of it.”

Kamlager-Dove represents the 37th District, which includes a large Jewish population in Pico-Robertson, Beverlywood and West L.A. According to Open Secrets, during the 2022 election cycle, she received $5,500 in donations from the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby and $17,830 from JStreetPAC, her third-largest donor, which calls itself a “pro-peace” and “anti-occupation” alternative to AIPAC.

On Nov. 3, Kamlager-Dove put out a statement that she supported a “humanitarian pause” in the Gaza Strip, saying that “Israel has a right to defend itself, and its military strategy must abide by international law, and work to protect civilian life.”

She went on to say, “I represent a large and diverse Jewish community in Los Angeles that has been grappling with the effects of this terrorist attack, including an alarming uptick in antisemitism. Many are also connecting with their Muslim and Palestinian brothers and sisters to rebuild a fractured community and continue the work of peace. The impact of this crisis has been a catalyst of hate crimes against American Muslims and American Jews.”

A month later, on Dec. 5, the congresswoman voted “present” for H.Res.894, which denounced and condemned all instances of antisemitism in the United States and globally. It also stated that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, and it passed.

After the vote, Kamlager-Dove said in a press release that “under the guise of condemning antisemitism, Republicans are weaponizing words and preying on the trauma of the American Jewish community by purposely including an overly broad definition of antisemitism that goes so far as to imply that it is antisemitic to criticize the actions of the Israeli government.”

In the same statement, she went on to say that “we also cannot forget that systematically rooting out antisemitism requires dismantling the bigotry and discrimination based on religious affiliation and national origin that is also the basis for Islamophobia against our Muslim and Palestinian brothers and sisters. The safety of these two communities is interlinked, at home and abroad.”

On March 19, Kamlager-Dove went on MSNBC and reflected on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s criticism of the Israeli government. She stood by him, telling the news channel, “Chuck Schumer said the quiet part out loud. He said there are four obstacles to peace: Hamas, Abbas, Israel’s right-wing government coalition, and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

After publication, the Journal heard back from Kamlager-Dove, who released this statement:

“While I recognize that ‘From the River to the Sea’ is, understandably, viewed as a hurtful phrase by many in the Jewish community, I voted no on this resolution because Republicans didn’t bring it up to actually address or condemn antisemitism.

“Speaker Johnson brought up this Republican-introduced resolution to exploit Iran’s attack on Israel to advance the GOP’s long-standing goal of equating antisemitism with criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian self-determination, thus restricting space around legitimate policy discussions. Weaponizing the real concerns of the Jewish community to advance a partisan political agenda is cynical and exploitative, and I will not allow my constituents to become pawns in House Republicans’ political games.”

She continued: “When ‘From the River to the Sea’ is said in the context of denying self-determination to Jews or Palestinians, advocating for the dismantling of the state of Israel, or calling for the displacement or elimination of any people, it is wrong and must be forcefully condemned. 

“While it is regrettable that many advocating for an independent, democratic Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security employ this phrase without understanding the context, condemning these individuals as inherently antisemitic—as this resolution does—is wrong and only sows greater division between communities.”

Originally published by The Jewish Journal.

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