Rep. Rashida Tlaib, R-Mich, refused on Wednesday to answer multiple questions about the pro-Palestinian rallying cry “from the river to the sea” and whether she is antisemitic — after the White House said the use of the phrase can be antisemitic.
Fox News’ Hillary Vaughn quizzed the Palestinian-American lawmaker, asking her if she regrets using the phrase.
“Congresswoman, do you regret using the phrase “from the river to the sea”? – It’s used by terrorists to call for the genocide of the Jewish people? Do you regret using it?” Vaughn said.
Tlaib did not respond.
Vaughn then noted comments by the White House this week, in which Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre called the phrase divisive and hurtful and that “many find it antisemitic.”
Vaughn then asked Tlaib, “Are you antisemitic, Congresswoman Tlaib” five times, each time receiving no answer.
Tlaib posted to social media recently and said the phrase was about “peaceful coexistence.”
“From the river to the sea is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate. My work and advocacy is always centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity,” she wrote on X.
Tlaib was censured in the Republican-controlled House in a 234-188 vote last week, on a resolution in which she was accused of “promoting false narratives regarding the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
Critics have said the “from the river to the sea” phrase implicitly involves the destruction of Israel.
“It is fundamentally a call for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, territory that includes the State of Israel, which would mean the dismantling of the Jewish state,” the Anti-Defamation League’s website says. “It is an antisemitic charge denying the Jewish right to self-determination, including through the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland.”
In 2020, the antisemitism watchdog, StopAntisemitism, blasted Tlaib for retweeting the phrase, calling it “code for eradicating the State of Israel and its millions of Jews.”
The phrase has also received sharp criticism from others, including former counterterrorism expert Nathan Sales, who said last month that when protestors chant “Palestine from the river to the sea,” they are really calling for the “extermination of the Jewish state.”
“They think that Israel shouldn’t exist at all,” Nathan Sales told Fox News’ “Sunday Night in America.” “This is exterminationist rhetoric and our First Amendment means that we have to tolerate this kind of speech, but the antidote for that kind of abhorrent speech is more speech. We need to expose what these Hamas sympathizers are really all about.”
Fox News’ Aubrie Spady, Brandon Gillespie, and Hanna Penreck contributed to this report.