Palestinians defy colonial erasure with the slogan “From the river to the sea”


The slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has become a rallying cry for millions of Palestinians and their supporters around the world, who demand an end to Israeli occupation, apartheid, and genocide. The phrase refers to the land between the Jordan River, which borders eastern Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, where historic Palestine lies.

The slogan expresses the Palestinian aspiration for liberation, self-determination, and equality, as well as their rejection of colonial partition plans that have denied them their rights and sovereignty. The slogan also reflects the Palestinian attachment to their ancestral towns and villages, many of which were ethnically cleansed by Zionist militias in 1948 and are now inhabited by Israeli settlers.

The slogan dates back to the 1960s, when it was used by various Palestinian factions and movements, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It was also adopted by the first intifada, or uprising, in 1987 and the second intifada in 2000, as well as by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was launched in 2005.


The backlash and censorship of the phrase

However, the slogan has also faced fierce opposition and censorship from pro-Israel groups and Western governments, who have labeled it as antisemitic and a call for the destruction of Israel. They have accused the slogan of denying the Jewish connection to the land and the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

In recent weeks, several prominent figures have been attacked or suspended for using the phrase, such as US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American serving in the House, and UK Labour MP Andy McDonald, who spoke at a pro-Palestine rally in London. They have defended using the phrase as a call for human rights and peaceful coexistence, not hate or violence.

In addition, pro-Palestine activists and students have faced harassment and intimidation for chanting the slogan at demonstrations and on campuses. For example, George Washington University suspended the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in November 2023 after they projected the slogan onto the university library. The suspension was later reversed after a public outcry.

The resistance and solidarity of the phrase

Despite the attempts to silence and criminalize the slogan, Palestinians and their allies have continued to use it as a symbol of resistance and solidarity. In the wake of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza in October 2023, which killed over 200 people, including 66 children, and injured more than 1,900, millions of people took to the streets in the largest pro-Palestine protests the West has ever seen.

Along with specific demands that Israel end its siege and bombing of Gaza, respect the rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and stop its illegal settlement expansion and ethnic cleansing, the protesters also chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as part of a broader vision of justice and freedom for all.

The slogan has also inspired many artists, writers, musicians, and poets, who have used it to express their solidarity and creativity. For example, the Palestinian rapper Shadia Mansour released a song titled “From the River to the Sea” in 2010, which features the lyrics “We will never give up, we will never compromise, we will resist until we are free, from the river to the sea.”.

The slogan has also been translated into different languages, such as Spanish, French, German, Turkish, and Urdu. It has been written in various scripts, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, and Cyrillic, to show the diversity and unity of the pro-Palestine movement.

The conclusion

The slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is more than a phrase. It is a declaration of identity, a statement of aspiration, and a challenge to oppression. It is a reminder of the past, a reflection of the present, and a hope for the future. It is a call for justice, a demand for dignity, and a promise of liberation.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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