White House criticizes Tlaib's use of 'from the river to the sea' in Hamas conflict

"From the river to the sea" demands the end of Israel.

Published: November 9, 2023 9:45am

The White House criticized Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib's use of the controversial phrase "from the river to the sea" in reference to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

While White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did not comment on Congress' decision to censure Tlaib, she said during a press conference Wednesday that the phrase is "divisive" and "many find it hurtful and also, many find it antisemitic, and so, obviously, we categorically reject applying the term to this conflict."

Last week, Tlaib, a Palestinian American, posted on X, formerly Twitter, that the phrase is "an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate." She has not posted on her personal account since then.

"From the river to the sea" demands the end of Israel – the only democracy in the Middle East – and the establishment of a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, where Israel is currently located. 

"Remember, Israel is defending itself from terrorists who committed a horrific act — that’s what we saw on October 7th, as you all know — and who have taken about 240 people
hostage, including American citizens," Jean-Pierre also said, referring to how on Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists invaded Israel, killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 31 U.S. citizens, and took about 240 other people hostage. Hamas and other terrorist groups have been firing rockets into Israel daily since that day, and Israel Defence Forces are currently operating in the Gaza Strip with the goal of taking out Hamas. 

"So, not going to speak to the actions that Congress took.  But certainly, as it relates to that term, we’ve been very clear: We strongly disagree."

Major U.S. Jewish groups, such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee say the phrase is antisemitic, while Aish, a major Orthodox Jewish education group, says it calls for the genocide of the Jewish people living in the region.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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