Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Keir Starmer

“Last night a genocidal call, from the river to the sea Palestine will be free, was projected on to this building [parliament]. That message says no Jew is welcome in the state of Israel”

Andrew Percy MP, House of Commons

Facts

In a speech addressing the House of Commons Andrew Percy MP said “Last night a genocidal call, from the river to the sea Palestine will be free, was projected on to this building [parliament]. That message says no Jew is welcome in the state of Israel”

Palestinians say the chant is simply a call for freedom and equality.

Nimer Sultany, a lecturer in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), says opposition to the chant is an attempt by “pro-Israeli propagandists to collapse the distinction between the existence of Israel as a state and the ideological apparatus of Jewish supremacy”. Through this distorted lens, he says, “a call for egalitarianism and for the dismantlement of the system of apartheid becomes an existential threat”. Sultany is a Palestinian citizen of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leader of the Likud Party. The Likud Party’s original party manifesto in 1977 stated: “Between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty”. In effect this has been their policy ever since.

Verdict

Percy’s characterisation is a distortion of what Palestinians themselves say they mean by the chant.

We emailed Andrew Percy offering him the chance to respond to our analysis. We publish his response in full below:

The basis of law in this country when it comes to racial and religious hate is that we take the view of the victim into account and see it from their perspective. For months now many British Jews have expressed their concerns about what this chant means and about how uncomfortable it makes them feel. It is funny isn’t it that those chanting it have included people who have held openly antisemitic signs, Nazi imagery or signs which show the whole of this land as Palestinian or under a Palestinian flag. Facts matter. They have not been marching with signs showing the land envisaged by Oslo as under a Palestinian flag or state, they have not been holding banners calling for mutual recognition of two states in this region living side by side in peace.

For months now many people who attend these protests have rotated between the genocidal ‘From the River to the Sea’ chant with other calls such as for jihad and for an intifada. The FACTS are important and the facts remain that Hamas and many who support their cause have been more than clear that Jews are not welcome in this geography at all. 

That is before we begun with the current legal situation which bars Jews rights in Palestinian lands or before we consider the Hamas charter which is fairly clear about its view of Jews and their right to exist at all.

I think we all know the game here though. This is not a serious attempt to deal with lies or falsehoods. It is an attempt to promote a lie and to promote a particular narrative by smearing those of us in elected office who have given voice to the very real and genuine concerns of many in the Jewish community and beyond who are concerned about the behaviour of some of these protestors on our streets and their intentions. I still choose to hope and believe that most of those who attend these protests are motivated by good intentions, but it is clear also that many are not. 

You can try and smear the calling out of Jew hate as a lie or falsehood or misleading. It may make the individuals doing that feel better about their own biased position on this issue. 

They can commit these smears to words if they wish, it doesn’t stop it being a lie.

The chant from the ‘River to the Sea’ is widely understood for what it is which is a chant that is said by very many people who absolutely do not believe Jews have any right to self-determination in this region.

For me, I shall continue to call it out whilst also hoping and praying for peace and for a solution that allows two states to eventually exist side by side in peace.

Published 28 Jun 2024
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