A majority of House Democrats have opted not to sign a statement rejecting a pro-Palestinian phrase critics have said calls for the extermination of Israel.
More than 60 of the 212 Democrats in the House did sign the statement denouncing the phrase “From the River to the Sea,” as the party still remains divided a month after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip in a brutal fashion.
“We reject the use of the phrase “from the river to the sea” — a phrase used by many, including Hamas, as a rallying cry for the destruction of the State of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people,” a joint statement from U.S. Reps. Brad Schneider of Illinois, Hillary Scholten of Michigan, Ritchie Torres of New York, and Norma Torres of California.
An anti-Israel sign with the phrase “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” at a protest at Tulane University in New Orleans. The phrase has been criticized as calling for the destruction of Israel. (Ryan Zamos)
“We all feel deep anguish for the human suffering caused by the war in Gaza. Hamas started this war with a barbaric terrorist attack on October 7, 2023, and neither the Palestinian nor Israeli people can have peace as long as Hamas still rules over Gaza and threatens Israel,” the statement continued.
The phrase — “From the river to the sea! Palestine will be free” — has been used by pro-Palestinian supporters for years, but has become a rallying cry in the month since Hamas killed 1,400 people in its Oct. 7 multi-pronged attack on Israeli communities the Gaza Strip.
The attacks prompted Israel to respond with force with constant airstrikes targeting Hamas, which controls Gaza.
While Republicans have been largely united in their support for Israel amid its response to the attack, House Democrats have been split. U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Michigan, who is of Palestinian descent, has been one of the most vocal critics of Israel.
“This phrase means eradicating Israel and Jews. Period. Dressing it up in a new PR ploy won’t change that,” she wrote in response to her colleague. “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.”
Along with the rest of the Squad, a group of progressive Democrats, Tlaib has pressed calls for a ceasefire and has criticized President Biden for U.S. support of Israel.