Letter to the Editor: What ‘From the River to the Sea’ Means
Israeli apartheid stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
Recently, a guest column accused student protestors of hate speech for their use of the phrase “from the river to the sea.” To clarify, that phrase is much older than Hamas and has historically been used to refer to the natural borders of historic Palestine as defined in the British Mandate: The Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Nowadays, variations of “river to sea” are commonly used in calling for the end of Israeli apartheid. The concept is frequently used by human rights organizations to describe the span of the Israeli government’s longstanding system of racial oppression and domination of Palestinian Arabs. B’Tselem, the foremost Israeli human rights organization, explicitly refers to Israeli apartheid as “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” Human Rights Watch opens their report on Israeli apartheid by stating “About 6.8 million Jewish Israelis and 6.8 million Palestinians live today between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River … across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians.” At Dartmouth, students are calling for Israelis and Palestinians to be free from this hateful system of apartheid, which stretches from river to sea — so students use variations of the phrase “river to sea” to emphasize that point.
Dartmouth students are not calling for hate or violence; we are speaking out against the hate and violence of apartheid. We believe everyone should be able to live freely throughout all of Israel-Palestine, from river to sea, and we have made that point explicitly clear throughout our work.
Additionally, to equate the end of apartheid with “the elimination of the state of Israel,” as some do, is to imply that Israel cannot exist except through a system of apartheid. This is an insult to Israelis that I find rather repugnant — I encourage students on this campus to not reduce Israeli identity to a crime against humanity. Instead, let’s work on imagining a new future for Israelis and Palestinians beyond apartheid, one where all are free from the river to the sea.
Letters to the Editor represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.