From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free

From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free

We oppose the motion passed yesterday in the Senate that condemns the phrase “from river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. It is entirely misconceived and based on an incorrect understanding of the phrase.

Historically, this phrase has been associated with the Palestinian cause for self-determination and statehood. The phrase is rooted in an aspiration for freedom for all people, irrespective of their background, faith or nationality. It is a vision that encompasses the right of all individuals to live in peace and dignity within the lands stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

It should not be controversial that Palestinians reject their oppression or aspire to their own liberation and life in their homeland, free from Israel’s racist systems and laws of control. 

According to the University of Toronto’s Hearing Palestine Initiative, an academic initiative that explores the history, culture, and collective memory of Palestine and Palestinians, ‘for Palestinian movements the slogan is not primarily a political program (e.g., two-state solution,
one-state solution, confederation, etc.), but rather a Palestinian expression for liberation, freedom, and equality given the on-going context of colonization and military occupation.’

What should be controversial is that the Senate motion, moved by Senator Birmingham, is using the words of Palestinians against Palestinians, and is in essence telling them that the colonisation of Palestinian land is not enough – now the words, meaning and political
imagination of Palestinians must also be silenced. Such a distortion of the phrase and its condemnation also distracts from a genocide which is unfolding.

It is disconcerting and disappointing that our political leaders are seemingly more engaged with, and concerned about, the alleged distress conveyed by lobby groups rather than the actual genocide which is being committed against Palestinians in Gaza and the prevention of
humanitarian aid to them.

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Signed and endorsed by the following organisations:
Australian National Imams Council
Australian Federation of Islamic Councils
Jewish Council of Australia
Muslim Women Australia
Australian Muslim Advocacy Network
Australia Palestine Advocacy Network
Council of Imams NSW
Islamic Council of NSW
Islamic Council of Victoria
Lebanese Muslim Association
The Islamic Society of South Australia
Queensland Muslims Incorporated
Muslim Legal Network
United Muslims of Australia (UMA)
United Muslims of NSW
ACT Muslim Association
United Muslims of Northern Territory
Board of Imams Victoria
Islamic Schools Association of Australia (ISAA)

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