Why the slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” is antisemitic

Dec. 11, 2023

When speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, our values are to honor multiple perspectives, reject zero-sum narratives, and uplift the humanity of everyone. As the consensus public affairs voice for Minnesota’s Jewish community, our vision for the future remains a two-state solution with an independent Palestine living in peace and security next to a Jewish, democratic state of Israel.  

The divisive slogan “From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free” runs contrary to our unifying vision of two states for two peoples. It is also antisemitic, for it denies Israel’s right to exist and is heard by many Jews as calling for the destruction of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state. 

Likewise, national Jewish organizations ADL and AJC agree that this slogan is antisemitic. As stated by ADL: 

  • “This rallying cry has long been used by anti-Israel voices, including supporters of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the PFLP, which seek Israel’s destruction through violent means.” 
  • “Usage of this phrase has the effect of making members of the Jewish and pro-Israel community feel unsafe and ostracized.” (Emphasis added).  

Sadly, this has been the experience of many Jewish students, including at Edina Public Schools. 

While it can be difficult to discern which pro-Palestinian rhetoric crosses the line into antisemitism, as the AJC carefully explains: 

  • “There is of course nothing antisemitic about advocating for Palestinians to have their own state. 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.” 

JCRC offers training on “Jewish Identity and Antisemitism,” which unpacks the differences between legitimate criticism of Israel/aspirations for Palestinian independence and antisemitism.