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July 27, 2022 11:05 am

‘From the River to the Sea’ and Beyond: 5 Trending ‘Palestinian Chants’ and Their Unreported Incitement to Genocide

avatar by Akiva Van Koningsveld


People hold Hamas flags as Palestinians gather after performing the last Friday of Ramadan to protest over the possible eviction of several Palestinian families from homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 7, 2021. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Recently, media outlets have accused Israel of curtailing freedom of speech by banning pro-Palestinian chants in Jerusalem. However, rather than quoting the actual chants, journalists simply referred to these slogans as “Palestinian chants,” “anti-Israeli slogans,” or even “anti-colonial chants.”

Hence, HonestReporting has compiled and translated a list of oft-heard Palestinian slogans, many of which have been co-opted by anti-Israel campaigners in the West:

1. “From the Water to the Water, Palestine Is Arab”

The anti-Israel movement’s favorite slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine [sic] will be free,” is well known to Western audiences. However, according to some sources, “Min el-maiyeh lel mayieh, Falasteen Arabiya” preceded the English-language catchphrase.

In any case, both slogans amount to a call to arms for Palestinians to take over all of Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, as HonestReporting has repeatedly outlined.

The chants echo comments by leaders of the US-designated Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, which is committed to the Jewish state’s destruction: “Palestine is ours, from the river to the sea and from the south to the north.”

These slogans have spread far beyond the Gaza Strip, Ramallah, and the Middle East. Supermodel Bella Hadid shared the chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” with her massive online following during a 2021 anti-Israel march in New York. Notably, Hadid lashed out at the Jewish state exactly when the Israel Defense Forces were fighting to neutralize terrorists who were launching thousands of rockets at civilian population centers.

Similarly, on April 23, 2022, activists affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Chicago screamed, “From the water to the water, Palestine is Arab!” The protest took place as Israel faced the deadliest wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks in over a decade.

2. “With Spirit and Blood We Will Redeem You, Oh Al-Aqsa”

Baseless accusations of Israeli threats to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem’s Old City, have long been a rallying call for Palestinian terrorism. For example, the 1929 Hebron massacre, in which Arabs murdered 67 Jewish inhabitants of the city, was sparked by rumors that Jews were planning to seize control of the mosque.

More recently, after Palestinian gunman Raad Hazem killed three Israelis and injured more than a dozen others in Tel Aviv on April 7, 2022, terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were quick to link the attack to the claim that the sanctity of Al-Aqsa was being threatened.

The common Palestinian chant “Birruh biddam nafdika ya Aqsa,” often heard during riots in Israel’s capital, should therefore be understood as inciting a religious war against the Jewish people.

And this popularity is spreading. Over the past years, violent shouts about the Al-Aqsa Mosque have been witnessed in DearbornTorontoManchester, and Newcastle, among other cities.

3. “Jews, Remember Khaybar, the Army of Muhammad Is Returning”

The history of the Islamic battle cry “Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud” can be traced back to a seventh-century confrontation between Muhammad’s army and Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula. After the Muslim conquerors attacked and overran the oasis of Khaybar, they famously massacred the men and sold their wives and children into slavery.

In a January 2001 New Yorker article, Middle East expert Jeffrey Goldberg notes that, although the Khaybar slogan was initially adopted by Hamas, secular Palestinians seemingly embraced it during the Second Intifada (2000-2005).

The chilling meaning of this chant is obvious: what the Islamic prophet did to the Jews of Arabia some 1,400 years ago will soon be repeated in Israel.

Three months ago, in an apparent show of their resolve to destroy Israel and the world’s largest Jewish community, Hamas supporters in Jerusalem used the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day to call for another Khaybar while burning Israeli flags.

Such death threats have also surfaced at pro-Palestinian rallies across the United States, including in New YorkChicago, and Florida, as well as in Canada and several European capitals. Yet, even though prosecutors in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands have acknowledged the genocidal intent behind the slogan, authorities have largely been reluctant to press charges against protesters.

4. “Put the Sword Against the Sword, We Are the Men of Mohammed Deif”

The intentions of Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip with an iron Islamist fist since seizing control of the enclave in 2007, are well-documented. In accordance with its antisemitic founding charter, Hamas’ foremost objective is to “obliterate” the only Jewish state and “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of [British Mandatory] Palestine.”

Acting as the commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ so-called military wing, Mohammed Deif is tasked with turning this objective into reality. Accordingly, the arch-terrorist has been on Israel’s most-wanted list for over a quarter century due to his role in numerous deadly attacks.

Furthermore, he personally gave the order on May 10, 2021, to fire rockets at Jerusalem, triggering 11 days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian terror organizations.

Deif, who has been praised as a “living martyr” by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is a star not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Following last year’s war between Israel and Hamas, for instance, a Ramallah man named his newborn son Mohammed Deif.

Deif’s popularity is also increasingly visible in the holy city. This spring, as Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian rioters near Al-Aqsa Mosque, Hamas followers on multiple occasions proclaimed their allegiance to the terror group by chanting, “Put the sword against the sword, we are the men of Mohammed Deif.”

Not much later, the same slogan was used during a Palestinian rally in Germany’s capital.

5. “Oh Qassam, Oh Friend, Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv”

The chant “Ya Qassam ya habib, odrob odrob Tel Aviv” likewise alludes to the US-designated terror group’s military wing, and calls on Hamas to fire missiles at Israel’s most densely-populated cities. Last year, 13 civilians, including two children, were killed in Israel by rockets fired from Gaza.

Each missile fired at civilians constitutes a war crime. And with many rockets manufactured, stored, transported through, and launched from predominantly urban areas, effectively using Gaza’s population as a collective human shield, Hamas commits additional war crimes every time it launches a rocket.

“Oh Qassam, oh friend, strike a blow at Tel Aviv” has made its way to the West, increasingly being co-opted by some pro-Palestinian campaigners. For instance, in a 2014 incident that Dutch Jewish students described as “threatening,” Sai Englert, a lecturer at The Netherland’s oldest university in Leiden, was caught on tape singing what amounts to a clear call to violence.

By obscuring the genocidal intent behind these “Palestinian chants,” news organizations are effectively complicit in perpetuating what amounts to an anti-Israel narrative.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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