David Ball: About ‘river to the sea’

Glenn Carstens-Peters/StockSnap

Published: 06-25-2024 6:44 PM

Modified: 06-26-2024 1:37 PM

Guest columnist Joseph Levine is absolutely right to say that “With the hyperbolic rhetoric emanating from their elders and mentors about the prevalence of antisemitic hate at the protests, it’s not surprising that some Jewish students believe it and then feel afraid.” [“Why challenge to Israel is felt as fear,” Gazette, June 21].

Most of the article is a convincing analysis of the Israel-Palestine situation and the reaction of many young people and others to it. I hope anyone concerned by the issue will read and re-read it. But one detail is doubtful and needs context: When protesters chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” I wonder how the writer can be so sure most of them do not mean “free of Jews,” but “free of Jewish supremacy.”

Above all, whether they mean “supremacy” or just “Jews,” the slogan has an unfortunate echo: When the surrounding Arab states invaded Israel in 1948, they promised the Palestinians they would “drive the Jews into the sea” in a few months. (It was one reason thousands of Palestinians fled, hoping to return soon.) When people are driven “into the sea,” they die. And that was the plan.

Let me be clear: This does not justify the genocidal war that Israel is waging against the Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere. The protesters are right to protest.

David Ball