With tears streaming down their face, at most pro-Palestinian protests, you’ll hear activists screaming out the words “Between the river and the sea, Palestine will be free,” but did anyone ever wonder what the story and meaning behind this chant? When looking at its actual meaning, the slogan refers to how the entirety of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea belongs to Palestine. That is why for many Israelis and Jewish people, the chant is triggering as it calls for the end of the Israeli state.
When looking back at its origins, since the 1960s, the Palestinian chant was part of a slogan used by people for different reasons. Back then, the slogan was taken by the Palestine Liberation Organization when it was first founded by Yasser Arafat back in 1964. So, the slogan did originate as a call for dismantling Israel as a Jewish State. Back then, a lot of Palestinians believed that for the slogan to come true, it would entail the voluntary departure of thousands of Jewish people.
Today, the slogan’s meaning grew into something broader wherein a lot of Palestinians see it as less of an eradication of Israel and more of a push for Palestinian rights. Today, the slogan is more about how the entire area referred to by the chant encompasses the entire space in which Palestinian rights are denied. When Palestinians and activists sing this chant out, they hope for a way for Palestinians to live in their homeland as free citizens, neither dominated by others nor dominating them.