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Saturday, July 13, 2024 at 6:02 AM

Understanding a phrase helped me understand a story

GUEST COLUMN |

The phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has sparked significant debate and controversy. On the surface, the phrase, often chanted at rallies and protests, expresses a vision of freedom and self-determination for Palestinians, spanning from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It resonates with their struggle for recognition and statehood, reflecting a desire to live in peace and security within their own homeland.

However, its interpretation varies widely, often influenced by the speaker’s intent and the listener’s perspective.

According to the Israelis, it is calling for the annihilation of the Jewish people in Israel.

There are seven million Jews between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and in this context, the chant is calling for the complete destruction of the state of Israel. For them, it hearkens back to the days of the Holocaust, where over six million Jews were killed.

Since my trip to Israel in May, it’s clear to me that this statement is much more complex than it initially appears. The trip I was on was sponsored by the American Israeli Education Foundation and all costs associated were covered by the organization. The purpose of the trip was an educational trip for American politicians to understand the state of Israel and the current war that is transpiring.

I was deeply moved by the stories of the attack that occurred Oct. 7 in Israel by members of Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization that commands the Gaza Strip and is in complete control.

From the Palestinians and Israelis I talked to, they both desire peace, but the truth is the Palestinians have allowed Hamas to take control of their lands.

On Oct. 7, more than 1,139 Israelis and foreign nationals were slaughtered by Hamas.

Of those killed, 32 were Americans. Hamas is a ruthless, vicious group that desires to destroy Israel.

During my travels, I had the opportunity to visit with many Israeli leaders, including members of the Knesset, as well as Palestinians.

However, nothing impacted me as much as visiting with the aunt of Agam Berger while visiting the West Bank.

Agam Berger is a 19-year-old Israeli girl.

She is a classically trained violinist, who also is serving in the Israeli army, an obligation for all young adults in Israel. Agam was kidnapped Oct. 7 by members of Hamas.

During my time in Israel, a video was released showing Agam and four of her fellow soldiers as they were being taken back to the Gaza Strip. The horrific and graphic details of what occurred during this video about Agam were sickening. The captors were talking about which girls they would rape to impregnate so that they could teach Israel a lesson.

As of the writing of this article, there are still 128 civilians and military personnel being held captive by Hamas in Gaza. Did you know that six of the hostages are Americans?

Hearing Agam’s story and knowing that Americans also were killed and taken hostage brings this violence from halfway around the world closer to home. These stories make it more personal and bring about a better understanding of their perspectives. Using divisive language such as protest slogans do nothing to enhance our understanding.

In a world striving for peace, words matter. It is crucial to engage in conversations that transcend slogans and delve into the underlying issues.

By fostering mutual respect and empathy, we can hope to find common ground and work towards a future where both Israelis and Palestinians can coexist peacefully.

Understanding the multiple dimensions of the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is a step towards bridging the divide and promoting a more informed and compassionate dialogue.


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