‘Squad’ member defends ‘river to the sea’ phrase interpreted as calling for ‘extermination’ of Jews

May 15, 2024 | Politics | 0 comments

Embattled Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., a member of the far-left “Squad,” recently defended a phrase widely viewed as antisemitic that calls for the “extermination” of Jews.

Bowman, who is facing a tough primary challenge in New York’s 16th Congressional District, made the controversial comments about the phrase “from the river to the sea” during a debate Monday night against his opponent, Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

“I know some do, others don’t. I do not,” Bowman said when asked by a member of the debate audience whether he believed the phrase was considered hate speech.

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Latimer ripped Bowman’s response, saying, “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.”

Bowman said earlier in the debate he does believe in Israel’s right to exist and supports a two-state solution, but his campaign has yet to respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment about his defense of the phrase that appears to run in contrast to his view.

“‘From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free’ is a rallying cry for terrorist groups and their sympathizers,” according to the American Jewish Committee, a view echoed by other Jewish advocacy groups. 

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The Anti-Defamation League, one such group, describes the phrase as an “antisemitic slogan commonly featured in anti-Israel campaigns and chanted at demonstrations.”

Nathan Sales, a former counterterrorism official, told Fox News last year that when pro-Palestinian protesters chant “Palestine from the river to the sea,” they are really calling for the “extermination of the Jewish state.”

“They think that Israel shouldn’t exist at all,” Sales told “Sunday Night in America.” “This is exterminationist rhetoric, and our First Amendment means that we have to tolerate this kind of speech, but the antidote for that kind of abhorrent speech is more speech. We need to expose what these Hamas sympathizers are really all about.” 

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Bowman has been a staunch critic of Israel, especially since the start of its ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza. Earlier this month, he attended a fundraiser co-hosted by an Islamic leader who said he was “happy to see” the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli civilians.

Bowman didn’t seem to mind the presence of Nihad Awad, a controversial and antisemitic figure who serves as the national executive director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, at the May 1 fundraiser at a private residence in Fairfax, Virginia.

Awad faced sharp scrutiny last year after expressing his pleasure with the Hamas attack that resulted in the deaths of nearly 1,200 Israelis, including women and babies, and claiming Israel “does not have a right to self-defense.”

Little polling has been done on the race, but Latimer maintains a slight fundraising advantage over Bowman, who was first elected to Congress in 2020.

The primary will be held Tuesday, June 25. The winner is expected to sail to victory in the November general election, considering election analysts rate the race as either “solid” or “safe” Democrat.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

The “Squad’s” Jamaal Bowman defended the controversial phrase “from the river to the sea” during a heated debate with his Democratic primary opponent.[#item_full_content]

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