“From The River To The Sea” Is Genocide, But Actual Genocide Is Not Genocide

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readNov 21, 2023

Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Elon Musk has announced that common pro-Palestine phrases like “from the river to the sea” and “decolonization” are now banned on Twitter and will result in suspension, falsely claiming that they “necessarily imply genocide”. This move is likely an attempt to appease key advertisers who have been pulling out of the platform in response to a tweet Musk himself made about Jewish communities pushing hatred toward white people.

If actually carried out this would arguably be the single greatest escalation in online censorship of all time, because it would be banning normal political speech on completely false grounds. “Decolonization” is just standard left-wing discourse, and as The Washington Post explained a few days prior to Musk’s announcement, “from the river to the sea” is a phrase that has been in use since the 1960s as a call not for genocide but for freedom and democracy.

Palestinians are clearly not free in apartheid Israel. Saying you want them to be free throughout that entire region is very plainly not a call for genocide.

Nobody truly believes “from the river to the sea” is a call for genocide, they just pretend to believe it to advance a political agenda, in the same way they pretended to believe Jeremy Corbyn was a closet Nazi for a while to advance a political agenda. Really they’re just lying.

Meanwhile Musk allows the platform to be used by Israeli officials who routinely express explicitly genocidal ideations on the platform, and then actually do the thing they’re calling for.

That’s right kids: actual genocide is not genocide — the real genocide is saying words that make Amy Schumer feel uncomfortable.

The claim that Israel is not an apartheid state is not a position anyone needs to take seriously. It’s crazy how Israel apologists have convinced the public that this is still a question up for debate when all the relevant mainstream institutions regard it as a settled matter.

The last six weeks have soundly discredited the idea that Israel is good at propaganda. The US empire is good at propaganda and its media are pro-Israel, but Israel itself is terrible at propaganda.

A big part of this may just be the fact that good propaganda requires a certain amount of creativity and artfulness, and the more of a stuffy right-wing authoritarian you are the less likely you are to be creative and artistic. It’s hard to imagine the far-right fascists who are closest to power in Israel having any ability to access the most human parts of themselves enough to connect with people and convince them of things the way a western liberal propagandist can.

Israel will pound a Palestinian population’s homes into rubble and forcibly displace them in droves with a relentless military onslaught, look you dead in the eye, tell you those people now need to be moved to foreign countries “for humanitarian reasons”, and call it “voluntary”.

If you think it’s disgusting that Israel is murdering children by the thousands, pause and reflect on the fact that there are also weapons manufacturers who are making an immense profit from it.

Liberals celebrated when Biden won and then he pushed Ukraine into an unwinnable war and sponsored a literal genocide. Every part of the US imperial power structure is irredeemably evil.

We don’t talk enough about the self-evident contradiction between the idea that Hamas is hiding in underground bunkers and the idea that Israel has been flattening all the buildings in Gaza because Hamas is hiding in those buildings.

Israel apologists say anyone who criticizes Israel does so because they’re an anti-semite. When asked for evidence that the accused is an anti-semite, they will point to their criticisms of Israel as their evidence. This is called circular reasoning, and it’s a logical fallacy.

This fallacious reasoning occurs with big-picture analysis too. Narrative management operations like the Anti-Defamation League try to divert criticism of Israeli atrocities in Gaza by pointing to giant spikes in anti-semitic incidents since October 7, but if you look at the actual data they’re using to make that claim they’re citing things like pro-Palestine demonstrations as incidents of anti-semitism (including pro-Palestine demonstrations by Jewish groups). We’re told to be careful about criticizing Israel because there’s a surge in anti-semitism, and as evidence that there’s a surge in anti-semitism they cite criticism of Israel. This is circular reasoning.

Actual hatred of Jews absolutely does exist in western society, but it’s much more peripheral than racism toward immigrants and people of color. You don’t typically see the average westerner espousing a hatred of Jewish people unless they dive down some pretty obscure and fringey rabbit holes that leave them babbling about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and denying the Holocaust and such nonsense. Jewish people simply are not othered that much in western society compared to other minorities, so if an Israel apologist needs to shout down western criticism of Israeli atrocities as arising from a hatred of Jews, they must necessarily resort to fallacious reasoning.

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