From Veterans For Peace Executive Committee
November 12, 2023
An Open Letter to the 212 Republicans and 22 Democrats who voted to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib on November 7, 2023
Your November 7 vote to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for her statements condemning the genocidal slaughter Israel is perpetrating in Gaza was one of shameless hypocrisy.
Republican Rep. Rich McCormick, who introduced the resolution, twisted Rep. Tlaib’s words, accusing her of "calling for the destruction of the state of Israel” because of her righteous defense of human rights and a statement calling for Palestinian freedom.
In particular, Tlaib, the only Palestinian American in Congress, was criticized for her use of the phrase “from the river to the sea,” which the censure resolution said is “widely recognized as a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel and its people.”
This slogan is nothing of the kind. As Tlaib herself said, it is “an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence,” a recognition that everyone living on the land once known as Palestine should be allowed equal rights and that the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were exiled and dispossessed in 1948 should be allowed to return to their homeland.
The inspirational phrase is a call for an end to the occupation, an end to apartheid, a return of violently stolen homes and lands and the legitimate right of return of a people ethnically cleansed and driven from the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, a land that was once Palestine. The phrase is a call for freedom and
international human rights, including the right of return. It is not a call for destruction.
Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber argued that there must be Arab-Jewish reconciliation before a Jewish state could be established, but he also advocated a one-state solution that accommodated the claims to the land of both peoples. That is what "From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free" actually means.
This phrase has been twisted by characterizing it as anti-Semitic, which is nonsense. Israel, a country that occupies and oppresses the Palestinians, themselves a Semitic people, cries “anti-Semitism” at any criticism of its apartheid policies, but we are not fooled.
Apartheid is anti-Semitic, 75 years of occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people is anti-Semitic, genocide in Gaza is anti-Semitic, a fascist state that imprisons (and often tortures) people without charge (Israeli administrative detention) is anti-Semitic.
The real anti-Semitism is that the traditional Jewish values of justice, compassion, and equality are trampled by the state that claims to represent Jews worldwide. We stand with Rashida and all Palestinians, and with Jews and others around the world who say, “Never again means never again for anyone.”