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Tlaib claims ‘river to sea’ isn’t hate, congressional colleagues disagree

"This phrase means eradicating Israel and Jews. Dressing it up in a new PR ploy won’t change that," wrote Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) at a protest in Clint, Texas, in 2019. Credit: Grossinger/Shutterstock.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) at a protest in Clint, Texas, in 2019. Credit: Grossinger/Shutterstock.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) is drawing harsh criticism from fellow Democrats of Congress after she wrote that the chant, “From the river to the sea,” which is widely viewed as an antisemitic call for genocide against Jews, is not hateful.

“‘From the river to the sea’ is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction or hate,” Tlaib claimed. “My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”

“‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is an antisemitic slogan commonly featured in anti-Israel campaigns and chanted at demonstrations,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. “It is fundamentally a call for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, territory that includes the State of Israel, which would mean the dismantling of the Jewish state. It is an antisemitic charge denying the Jewish right to self-determination, including through the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland.”

“It calls for the establishment of a State of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, erasing the State of Israel and its people,” added the American Jewish Committee. “It is also a rallying cry for terrorist groups and their sympathizers, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to Hamas, which called for Israel’s destruction in its original governing charter in 1988 and was responsible for the Oct. 7, 2023 terror attack on Israeli civilians.”

“This phrase means eradicating Israel and Jews. Period. Dressing it up in a new PR ploy won’t change that,” wrote Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). “Only a return of hostages, eliminating Hamas and liberating Gaza from oppressive terror will save civilian lives and secure the peace, justice and dignity you seek.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) wrote that “Rep. Rashida Tlaib is wrong.”

“From the river to the sea” is “a call for eliminating the state of Israel that rejects a two-state solution and puts Jews in danger,” she said. “We must reject extremism, no matter which side of the aisle it comes from. America’s support for Israel remains unwavering.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote that he denounces both “from the river to the sea” and “extremist Israeli voices calling for the inverse ‘from the river to the sea.'” He did not mention Tlaib by name.

Dana Nessel, the attorney general of Michigan and a Democrat, wrote to Tlaib: “I have supported and defended you countless times, even when you have said the indefensible, because I believed you to be a good person whose heart was in the right place. But this is so hurtful to so many. Please retract this cruel and hateful remark.”

“No verbal acrobatics can hide the true meaning behind this slogan—namely—the obliteration of the State of Israel. Hamas’s charter clearly states ‘Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,'” wrote the Israeli embassy in Washington. “Rashida Tlaib, does your definition of ‘from the river to the sea’ allow for Israel to exist?”

Last month, Canary Mission, a watchdog, revealed that Tlaib has financial ties to Hamas.

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