In his recent speech at the UN, Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Temple University and a now former contributor to CNN, used the rallying cry “from the river to the sea” in his speech. From the river to the sea refers to the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea which is where Israel sits. The phrase is used as a call to eliminate and replace Israel.
The fact that he so boldly said it with no shame is only the starting point. Once his statement hit social media the gaslighting began. To gaslight someone means to manipulate them into questioning their sanity or in this case reality. Most of us know the term gaslight from a movie of the same name where a husband slowly manipulates his wife into thinking she is going crazy. In this instance, people are manipulating the reality of what Marc Lamont Hill said.
First there is Lamont Hill himself who claimed in a tweet that the phrase “from the river to the sea” has many meanings. The phrase originated with the PLO which was established in 1964, and then as now, when people use the phrase, they arre defining where a Palestinian state should be. It has been used since that time as a rallying call for the elimination of Israel. It has no other meaning.
Shaun King, a columnist for The Intercept and The Appeal, and founder of Real Justice PAC, made the claim on twitter that “ People clearly misrepresented his speech in wild and dishonest ways. It was a speech about human rights and freedom.” How does one misrepresent, wildly or otherwise, Lamont Hill’s exact words? #gaslighting
One of my favorite, in the snarkiest sense, is a tweet from actor Mark Ruffalo.
He wrote “Criticizing the actions of Israel is not anti-semitism. Since when is advocating for human rights a fireable offense? Join us in standing in solidarity with Dr. @MarcLamontHill”. Do I need to say it again? Calling for the elimination and replacement of Israel isn’t criticism. It is a call for the destruction of an entire country. Is this what you want me to believe is human rights? The icing on the gaslighting cake is that Mark Ruffalo is explaining to us Jews what antisemitism is and is not. This tactic is straight from
A different form of gaslighting and a more virulent kind, can be found on The Electric Intifada website. They claim the response to Lamont Hill was an orchestrated lynching by Israel lobby groups. This is gaslighting on steroids. The Electric Intifada calls these lobbyists “operatives”. It’s not possible that someone speaking against Israel could be wrong, that’s the gaslight, and while gas without additives has no smell, yes, that was a whiff of antisemitism you just smelled. Jewish operatives secretly coordinating and manipulating the world is an old favorite antisemitic trope.
I won’t tell people how to be pro Palestinian. As someone who resides somewhere between the river to the sea, I will stand up and speak out against those that express their pro Palestinian views in ways that call for the elimination of Israel whether it is subtle or outright.
To say that the phrase “from the river to the sea” is not about eliminating and replacing Israel is like someone who says the confederate flag has nothing to do with slavery.