‘Squad’ member Jamaal Bowman says ‘From the river to the sea’ chant isn’t hate speech

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was asked during a primary debate Monday whether the phrase “From the river to the sea” is hate speech and he made it clear that he does not see it that way.

The antisemitic phrase calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state, eliminating Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

An audience member posed the question at a News 12 debate against Westchester County Executive George Latimer, and the radical left “squad” member replied, “I know some do, others don’t, I do not.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been clear on what it calls “an antisemitic slogan.”

“It is fundamentally a call for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, territory that includes the State of Israel, which would mean the dismantling of the Jewish state. It is an antisemitic charge denying the Jewish right to self-determination, including through the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland,” the ADL has said.

When the GOP-controlled House voted to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) in November for her antisemitic rhetoric, which included using the phrase, the Associate Press offered this take, “Many Palestinian activists say it’s a call for peace and equality after 75 years of Israeli statehood and decades-long, open-ended Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians.”

Bowman did say that he believes in Israel’s right to exist and supports a two-state solution.

His opponent had a different take.

“I think it is hate speech because I think it’s clear that ‘From the river to the sea’ has meant specifically the eradication of the Jewish population from the land of Israel,” Latimer explained. “What’s behind the marketing campaign that’s being advanced is to try to delegitimize Israel and that there be a free Palestine is a hopeful sign, but it has to accept the fact that there is an Israel there as well.”

For what it’s worth, during a December appearance on CNN, Bowen did not want to have anything to do with the controversial phrase.

When asked if he believes “from the river to the sea” is a call for genocide, Bowen replied, “It’s not a phrase I use because I know many of my Jewish brothers and sisters believe that it is. So I don’t want to encroach upon what they feel that is and I don’t even use the phrase.”

Tom Tillison

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