From the River to the Sea
Published 1:00 pm Saturday, November 11, 2023
The chant “From the River to the Sea” is heard all over the world these days. Usually it is being shouted by opponents of the Middle East’s only democracy, Israel. What does it mean?
First of all, there is the geographical meaning. The “River” portion of the chant refers to the Jordan River. The Jordan River is not one of the world’s longest, widest, or deepest rivers, but its significance has to do with that fact that it is important to the faiths of Judaism and Christianity.
“I looked over Jordan and what did I see, coming for to carry me home,” you recognize as the opening few lines of the first verse of the song, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. God’s people, the Israelites, crossed the Jordan River as they entered the Promised Land. It flows through the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River.
The “Sea” is the Mediterranean Sea. It connects to the Atlantic Ocean and separates southern Europe from North Africa, but also includes a section that borders the Middle Eastern country of Israel. Israel’s capitol and most bustling city, Tel Aviv, is a city located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is the nation of Israel.
It wasn’t the first attack on the nation of Israel; since its founding charter by the United Nations in 1947, Israel has endured many wars. But the recent October 7th, 2023 terrorist attack by the sworn enemies of Israel known as Hamas was the most horrific. As our nation, the United States, has been surprised at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and the September 11th, 2001 series of attacks by Al Qaida, Israel has called the October 7th surprise attack “our September 11th.”
The day after October 7th, Israel declared war on Hamas. The nation feels that the moment is an existential one, meaning that their very and real existence as a nation depends upon the most serious response, war. They didn’t ask any other nation for the permission of responding to the horror of the surprise attack nor should they.
For instance, after both of the aforementioned attacks on our homeland, the United States didn’t take a worldwide poll to ascertain our response. There was no choice in either our or Israel’s response.
The chant “From the River to the Sea” is familiar to Hamas and the opponents of Israel. Its meaning is that from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, the Jewish people occupying the land will be driven from the river and into the sea to exist no more. In other words, the goal of Israel’s opponents is to wipe them out.
Such a goal should be condemned by the entire world. The Jewish nation has carved out a democracy from a desert and is a prosperous nation. One of their hallmarks has been their fierce determination to exist and live in peace. Without that determination, they would not exist.
There is irony, though. To live in peace, Israel has had to build a strong military presence in that land between the river and the sea. Their enemies are also determined; determined that there will be no Israel.
I’ve purposely not viewed the video of the October 7th attacks. I understand that the actions of Hamas were brutal from defenseless babies to the elderly. I don’t understand such hatred except to call it evil and the response to such evil has to be swift and unapologetic.
Israel has always had the support of the United States and now is no time to stop. Peace comes through strength.