“From the River to the Sea”
“From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free” is an antisemitic phrase. It is a catch-all phrase symbolizing Palestinian control over the entire territory of Israel’s borders, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. That means it is a call for erasing the State of Israel and the Jewish people who live there. It is also a rallying cry for terrorist groups and their sympathizers to do the same.
There is of course nothing antisemitic about advocating for Palestinians to have their own state. AJC itself is an organization that believes in a two-state solution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, calling for the elimination of the Jewish state, praising Hamas or other entities who call for Israel’s destruction, or suggesting that the Jews alone do not have the right to self-determination, is antisemitic.
By definition, the Palestinians are not experiencing genocide. Claiming that Jews are perpetuating such genocide is gaslighting a community whose population numbers have still not exceeded pre-Holocaust levels. Furthermore, the Palestinian population, both in the West Bank and Gaza, has increased exponentially since the UN voted to establish a state for the Jewish people in the land of Israel.
If there is any genocidal intent in this conflict, the aforementioned slogan and threat “from the river to the sea” exposes it on the Hamas side. The goal of Hamas is to wipe Israel and Jews off the map.
Israel’s military operation to defend itself after Hamas’ October 7 atrocities, has been accused by thousands of artists, activists, and politicians, of carrying out genocide against the Palestinians. The accusations of genocide pervade the scholarly discourse, social media, and the vitriol of anti-Israel protesters.
Video Explainer: Israel is Not Committing Genocide
South Africa's Genocide Accusation:
1) Read: What You Need to Know About the Latest International Court of Justice Action in the Case Against Israel
2) Read: What You Need to Know about South Africa’s Baseless Genocide Accusation Against Israel
3) Listen: Unpacking South Africa’s Baseless Genocide Charge Against Israel
Read More: 5 Reasons Why the Events in Gaza Are Not Genocide
"Globalize the Intifada"
In anti-Israel demonstrations around the world, one frequently heard chant is “globalize the intifada.
There are endless examples such as at a demonstration in Times Square, in front of the Consulate General of Israel in Manhattan, at Harvard University, and even on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, not far from Crown Heights, a neighborhood with a very large Hasidic Jewish population that is the home of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
“Globalize the intifada” calls for widespread violence against both Israelis and Jews across the globe. The Arabic word “Intifada” translates to “uprising” or “shaking off.” It has been used to describe a series of Palestinian violent uprisings against Israel and policies in the West Bank and Gaza: The First Intifada from 1987-1990 and the Second Intifada from 2000-05.
It was during the First Intifada that the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas was born and issued its charter to eradicate the Jewish state. During the Second Intifada, terrorists murdered over 1,000 Israelis through a campaign that included suicide bombings.
Hamas, or Harakat al Muqawama al Islamiyah, is a Sunni Islamist terrorist organization that operates as the de facto leader of the Gaza Strip. Founded in 1988 during the First Intifada as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas set two long-term goals, articulated in its charter: the end of the Jewish state and the creation of an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Its more immediate goal is the “liberation of Palestine” and the “return” of the Palestinian people.
Watch: What is Hamas?
Instagram: What Hamas Lied About
Many parties are calling for a ceasefire from both Israel and Hamas, in order to prevent further bloodshed. The problem with this call is that it ignores two critically important points:
- Israel has just experienced the most catastrophic attack on its soil in its history. It has every right to respond to defend itself, as any nation would. Recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself means respecting Israel’s right to set its war goals and pursue them as it deems best.
- Israel has fought multiple wars against Hamas in Gaza, including in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021. In each case, Israel agreed to a ceasefire, due to pressure from the international community. In repeated conflicts, Hamas has broken those ceasefires.
Until October 7, the underlying assumption was that Hamas’ ideological goal of destroying the Jewish State existed in tandem with a pragmatic interest in governing Gaza. Hamas’ actions on October 7 destroyed those assumptions.
Calling for a ceasefire gives Hamas credit and authority it no longer deserves. The United States and other Western powers must stand by Israel as it pursues the only option left to it after 16 years of trying every other option to deter Hamas and force it to abandon its stated goal of destroying Israel.
Israel is a democracy with clear laws. The IDF will conduct this war in keeping with internationally recognized standards. Every reasonable effort will be made to protect innocent civilians.
By charging Israel with colonizing Palestinians, Hamas and its supporters are manipulating the cause of racial justice to advance their terrorist goals - all while hoping no one notices Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years.
Hamas wants Americans and Europeans to think the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a racial one, in which Israelis are seen as European and white oppressors and colonizers and Palestinians are seen as people of color who are oppressed and colonized. But the conflict is not a racial one. It’s a conflict between two nationalities.
Read More: Why Israel is Not a Settler Colonial State
Despite being controlled by a terrorist organization that is dedicated to Israel’s destruction, Israel long provided humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip through coordination with international organizations, allowing the transfer of goods and aid through specific border crossings while inspecting shipments for security purposes. This assistance has included food, medical supplies, and specialized medical treatment for Gaza residents. Israel also coordinated the supply of electricity and fuel, critical for essential infrastructure.
It is important to note that, according to the laws of war, countries are not required to supply their enemies with food, water, electricity, and gasoline, all of which support the enemy’s capacity to fight. Yet, even during previous rounds of fighting, Israel continued to supply Gaza with electricity, water, food, and medicine. The decision to cut off such supplies following October 7 is a direct result of the viciousness of Hamas’ attacks.
Read More: Tough Questions About Gaza Answered
Israel’s military operations in Gaza target terrorist groups and their infrastructure, and any civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure is unintentional.
Hamas stores weapons in residential areas and even schools and hospitals, firing rockets from densely populated zones, operating command centers in civilian areas, and sometimes using civilian clothing to blend in. Such practices make it challenging for the Israeli military to target legitimate military assets without risking civilian casualties.
Instagram: Let's Talk About Al Shifa Hospital
On October 12, Israel told some 1.1 million people in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate toward the southern part of the coastal territory ahead of an expected ground operation and in order to avoid extensive casualties as it targets Hamas terrorist infrastructure, much of which is buried deep underground. IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said that the IDF would make “extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians” and that residents would be allowed to return when the war is over.
The goal for Israel is to end the terror threat posed by Hamas after it carried out the world’s deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history on October 7. Israel, which pulled its citizens out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, has no long-term plan to control the territory, nor does it have any plans to remove the Palestinian population there. It is simply trying to defend itself from Hamas terrorism.
Read More: Tough Questions About Gaza Answered
Some media accounts of the Gaza Strip often blame Israel’s “occupation” as one of the root causes of the conflict. However, Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip and has had no permanent presence in the coastal enclave for nearly two decades.
From 1948 to 1967, the Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt, which took control of the territory during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, also known as Israel’s War of Independence. As a result of the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel gained control over the Gaza Strip from Egypt.
In 2005, Israel, overcoming huge political pushback, withdrew from the Gaza Strip, dismantling its settlements and military installations in the name of peace and in hopes of creating a better future.
Israel and Egypt maintain strict blockades over Gaza to block the smuggling of weapons and monitor the misuse of materials by terror groups. This blockade began soon after the Hamas’ takeover of Gaza and amid fears of Iranian arms shipments and that Hamas would repurpose humanitarian aid to use as deadly weapons against Israel. Examples of this include pipes for rockets and cement for attack tunnels.
Read More: Israel's Enduring Quest for Peace
The truth is that this is one of the most commonly employed malicious lies against Israel, which seeks to cast it as uniquely evil and worthy of being dismantled.
According to the Cornell Legal Information Institute, “apartheid refers to the implementation and maintenance of a system of legalized racial segregation in which one racial group is deprived of political and civil rights.”
All citizens of Israel enjoy full civil rights, and the Israeli Knesset (parliament) has included significant representation of elected Arab members. The Arabic language has a special status in Israel and Arab Israelis participate in civic life at all levels, including serving in senior posts in education, healthcare, and law.
Read More: Tough Questions on Israel Answered
Jewish Ancestral Connection to the Land of Israel
Among the lies being spread is an effort to undermine Israel’s legitimacy by accusing it of being a settler-colonial state. Those spreading this lie argue that Jews have no historical connection to the land of Israel and that Zionists - those who support the right of Jewish self-determination and national homeland in the land of Israel - came to colonize the land, taking it from the Palestinians beginning in the late nineteenth century. However, this claim ignores the thousands of years of deep connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
The Houthis are an extremist Shia-Islamist movement and terrorist army. Backed by Iran, this organization controls approximately one-third of Yemen’s territory and more than two-thirds of the country’s population. It has emerged as a prominent player in the Israel-Hamas war, which began on October 7 with a mass murder attack by Hamas on Israelis.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been a focal point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for several decades, and while it defines its position as providing essential support for Palestinians across the Middle East, many questions have been raised about its place in perpetuating the conflict and incitement to violence.
Amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, further questions have been raised about the agency’s ties with Hamas, and what function, if any, it would fulfill in a post-war Gaza. On January 26, the U.S. announced it would temporarily pause funding to UNRWA after Israel revealed that at least a dozen employees were allegedly involved in the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel.
AJC Statement: AJC Policy on the UNRWA