Tlaib Finds Herself Facing Isolation as Support Wanes

( – Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan is creating further distance between herself and other Democrats in her state after defending a controversial phrase used by pro-Palestinian activists during protests.

The phrase in question is: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is commonly chanted at pro-Palestine demonstrations. The saying raises concerns with pro-Israeli groups and politicians who view it as a call to genocide. The “river” referred to is the Jordan River to the east, and the “sea” is the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Palestinians claim that their ancestral land lies between these two bodies of water and that it encompasses the entirety of what is currently Israel.

The phrase implies that “Palestine will be free” only when the lands between the existing Palestinian territories (the Gaza Strip bordering the Mediterranean and the West Bank bordering the Jordan River) are restored to Palestinians entirely, meaning Israel must be dismantled as a whole.

Tlaib is the only member of Congress who is of Palestinian descent. She called the pro-Palestinian phrase “an aspirational call” by activists “for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence” and maintains that the phrase does not call for “death, destruction, or hate.”

The controversy lies in the fact that the slogan has been adopted by the radical militant group Hamas, who attacked Israel on October 7 and allegedly killed around 1,400 people. Hamas also took around 200 hostages over the border into Gaza, some of whom have been released. Since the attack, Israel has retaliated and at least 8,500 Palestinians have died over the last month in the conflict.

Tlaib and others who agree with her are calling Israel’s actions genocidal, and are advocating to the White House for a ceasefire. Tlaib recently criticized President Joe Biden over the issue, accusing him of “complicity” in the deaths of children in the Middle East amid the ongoing conflict.

Meanwhile, critics of Tlaib accuse her of antisemitism. Among those critics was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said that while Tlaib is technically a friend,” he disagrees with the slogan in question. Sanders said that “from the river to the sea” refers to “the destruction of Israel.” Despite this, he went on to criticize unquestioning support for Israel as well.

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