Many students chanting ‘From the river to the sea’ don’t know what it means

According to a survey conducted among US students, 53% of the students chanting „from the river to the sea” were unaware of which river and sea the antisemitic slogan refers to.

Ron Hassner, a professor of political science and Israel studies at the University of California, Berkeley, hired a polling firm to survey 250 US students „from a variety of backgrounds” to find out what they actually know about the pro-Palestinian „from the river to the sea” slogan they are singing, reports the Jewish News Syndicate.

„Most said they supported the chant, some enthusiastically so (32.8%) and others to a lesser extent (53.2%),” said Hassner. It turned out that only 47% of those who supported the slogan knew which river and which sea it referred to. Some thought it was the Nile or Euphrates, both of which are rivers, or the Dead Sea, Atlantic and Caribbean, which are not rivers.

Students supporting the slogan showed greater ignorance about other facts about the region and its history. Fewer than 25% knew who Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat was, with 10% saying he was Israel’s first prime minister. A quarter of the surveyed students thought the Oslo Peace Accords weren’t signed.

„There’s no shame in being ignorant unless one is screaming for the extermination of millions,” Hassner wrote.

After the students were confronted with their misunderstandings, 67.8% changed their minds and rejected „From the river to the sea,” Hassner added.

„These students had never seen a map of the Mideast and knew little about the region’s geography, history or demography,” he added. „Those who hope to encourage extremism depend on the political ignorance of their audiences. It is time for good teachers to join the fray and combat bias with education.”


Photo credit: REUTERS/ERIC COX