US House of Representatives passes resolution branding ‘From the river to the sea’ chant antisemitic

The motion characterising the emotive slogan as Jew-hate passed with a huge majority


The provocative slogan has been embraced by pro-Palestine demonstrators, who have denied it is antisemitic (Photo: Getty)

The US House of Representatives has voted to condemn the emotive chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as antisemitic.

The bipartisan resolution was overwhelmingly passed by the Republican-controlled chamber on Tuesday by a vote of 377 to 44, with 43 Democrats and one Republican Thomas Massie voting against it. One Democrat voted “present”, meaning they refused to support either option.

Many interpret the slogan, which refers to the entirety of the land between the Jordan River, which borders eastern Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west, as a call for the eradication of the Jewish state. It has been widely heard across the US and UK since Hamas invaded Israel on October 7, with the words of the chant projected onto Big Ben in February.

The resolution, proposed in November by Anthony D’Esposito, who represents New York, stated that the chant was used as a “rallying cry” by terror groups including Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The slogan, it said, “seeks to deny Jewish people the right to self-determination and calls for the removal of the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland.”

It added that it “does a disservice to Israelis, Palestinians and all those in the region who seek peace.”

Bringing the motion to the House, D’Esposito said: “This slogan communicates one thing and one thing only. It is not human rights, and it is certainly not peace. It is the violent destruction of the State of Israel.”

Among those who rejected the resolution were members of the so-called “Squad” in the House of Representatives, a group of progressives who have been outspoken in their criticism of Israel and the war in Gaza. They include Democrats Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. Libertarian Republican congressman Thomas Massie also voted against the motion.

Democrat Josh Gottheimer, who co-sponsored the resolution, said: “I’m proud to have led and passed this bipartisan legislation... Our resolution makes it clear that the slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is antisemitic and calls for the total eradication of the Jewish, democratic state of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people.”

He added: “As Members of Congress, we have a right - and a responsibility - to condemn disgusting, divisive, and dehumanising chants. I will never stop fighting against prejudice and hate - in any form,” he added.

The resolution coincided with the release of new data from Jewish civil rights group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) showing Jews in the US experienced an unprecedented increase in recorded incidents of antisemitism in 2023 that exceeded any year since records began. Reports of antisemitism soared 140 per cent from 2022.

The ADL has described the ‘From the river to the sea’ chant as “an antisemitic charge denying the Jewish right to self-determination, including through the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland”.

Using the slogan “has the effect of making members of the Jewish and pro-Israel community feel unsafe and ostracised,” according to the group.

“It is important to note that demanding justice for Palestinians, or calling for a Palestinian state, should not mean, as this hateful phrase posits, denying the right of the State of Israel to exist," it has said.

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