From The River To The Sea, A Genocidal Etymology

Written By Daniel Bordman, Posted on October 25, 2023

One of the most common slogans chanted by Palestinian supporters is the infamous “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. This chant has been heard on the streets of many Western cities and now even classrooms within our society. While many who engage in this sloganeering may think it is a generic call for Palestinian human rights, the origins and intentions of this phrase are genocidal in nature.

To understand the meaning of this slogan one has to look at the original map of the British mandate for Palestine. The 1922 mandate outlined what was going to be a home state for the Jewish people, as you can see the original Palestine included what is both modern-day Israel and Jordan. 

The different mandates for the British and French were decided upon after the First World War when the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the land, collapsed. At the 1920 San Remo Accords British, French, Arab, and Jewish leaders agreed on the new framework for a Jewish homeland. However, after the agreement was made and the Mandate for Palestine formed the Hashemite king Hussien decided that he wanted two countries instead of one (The British mandate for Iraq had been promised to him).

The Hahemite’s request was granted in 1923 when the first partition of Palestine happened, dividing Palestine into East and West Palestine. East Palestine was made an Arab Muslim state with 77% of the original land promised to the Jewish people and was quickly renamed The Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan.

After the creation of Jordan, there was an immediate and total ethnic cleansing of Jews living East of the Jordan River. It still remains official Jordanian policy to this day that no Jew will be allowed to own an inch of land in Jordan. You can even face the death penalty if you sell your land to a Jewish person in modern Jordan.

This is where the hypocrisy and lack of historical and geographical knowledge come in. As you can see, the “river” is the Jordan River, and the “sea” is the Mediterranean Sea. The implication here is that the only area in which there are human rights problems is territorial Israel and not Jordan.

This brings up a few questions for those who chant this slogan. Why does Jordan not count as “Palestinian land” but Israel does? By what metric could Jordan be considered a legitimate country, but Israel is not? Do Jews of the Middle East not deserve the same human rights as anyone else? 

Violence and persecution of Jews in the Middle East did not start in the 20th century, it goes back centuries, but it is important to note that there was a massive ethnic cleansing of Jews in Palestine 25 years prior to the Establishment of the state of Israel.

In 1947 when a second two-state solution was proposed the Jewish people accepted it, but the Arab nations rejected the plan, instead opting to wage a war with the intent of “pushing the Jews into the sea” and taking the entire land for themselves. Israel won the independence war against the Arab Palestinian armies, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

In the aftermath of the war Israel gained independence, Gaza fell under the control of Egypt, and the area of Judea and Samaria was taken by Jordan and renamed the West Bank as the territory is on the Western side of the Jordanian river. The name would make zero sense from a “Palestinian” point of view as the land is on the Eastern part of what they consider “Palestine”.

It should be noted that when Jordan acquired the new territory, they enacted the exact same ethnic cleansing policy towards Jews in 1948 that they did in 1923.

From 1948 until 1967 Egypt and Jordan controlled Gaza and the “West Bank” respectively. In 1964 Yasar Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) was formed. It should be mentioned, what were they in need of “liberation” from at the time. The answer is in their founding charter. I will quote article 24: “This Organization does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or the Himmah Area. Its activities will be on the national popular level in the liberational, organizational, political, and financial fields.”

It is very clear that the goals of “Palestinian liberation” are only in the land of Israel and land that was already under Arab/Islamic control did not need to be considered “Palestine” as the goal was pan-Arab domination, not peaceful coexistence. 

After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel gained control of these territories, plus the Saini and Golan Heights. In the aftermath of the war, Israel offered back all the land it gained in the war in exchange for peace. The entire Arab leadership met in Khartoum and issued the infamous Khartoum Declaration.

The Khartoum Declaration is known more commonly as “the three no’s”

-No peace with Israel

-No recognition of Israel

-No negotiation with Israel

Fast forward 38 years and many peace proposals rejected by Palestinian leadership and we get to Gaza in 2005. Despite heavy criticism on the Israeli Right that appeasement of terrorism would breed more terrorism Israel decided to create an independent Palestinian state in Gaza with zero negotiations or pre-conditions.

In 2005, not only did the Israeli army leave Gaza, but the IDF forcibly removed every single Jewish person from the Gaza Strip. All the common talking points put forward by Palestinian activists like “occupation” or “settlements” do not apply to Gaza. They were given everything they wanted and full self-determination.

What did Gaza do with its new self-governance? They burned down all the infrastructure the Israelis left for them and then elected Hamas, which ran on a platform of global genocidal Jihad.

It is important to read the Hamas charter to see the real ideology and motivations of the terrorist organization. 

Here are some quotes. 

From Article 7: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

Article 8: Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.

The genocidal intent of Hamas is very clear, and the events that played out on Hamas fighter’s live streams directly match the rhetoric that their leadership has been pushing since the terrorist organization’s inception.

The people chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” need to answer two important questions. Is the freedom they are advocating for the self-determination of the Palestinian people or the destruction of Israel? Also, do the Jewish people in the region deserve equal human rights, would you force the Jews of Israel to live under a “government” whose policy towards them is total annihilation? 

Like many pro-Palestinian talking points the “from the river to the sea” one is not only a lie, but the complete inversion of the truth. Israel has 1.5 million Israeli Muslim Arabs who enjoy more democratic and human rights than any other Muslim-majority country in the region. Is there really a chance for lasting peace between Jews and the people who committed the horrific atrocities of October 7th?

No group of people will ever agree to being systematically slaughtered, so if you are a true advocate for the Palestinian people, try and advocate for them in a way that can bring lasting peace and the means of acknowledging both the history of the conflict and the current reality on the ground. 

Daniel Bordman

Daniel is the host of political satire show Uninterrupted, runs multiple podcasts and has written for a variety of publications. Daniel is also the communications coordinator of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation. You can find him on Twitter here. Uninterrupted on YouTube

2 responses to “From The River To The Sea, A Genocidal Etymology”

  1. Santosh Mishra says:

    A very informative article for those who are claiming Jews to be usurpers of Palestinian land. Moreover, the Jews have biblical rights going back to Judea and Samaria from where they were exiled by the Romans.

  2. Ad mo says:

    Palestine #etymology #origin of #name #Arabic

    Palestine is an Ancient #Arabic name derived from Tin (teen طين#wet earth, mud). Felastin(#Palestine as pronounced by Indo-European languages)
    Felas ("fell" as in RockeFELLer) to fell to cut to gorge wet land!#Rain-fed Agriculture!