Political party Bij1 says it has projected a controversial Palestinian slogan on the Mauritshuis in The Hague. The museum building read: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’. That slogan was banned in the House of Representatives last week after it was used by Bij1 leader Sylvana Simons and Denk leader Stephan van Baarle.
According to Bij1, this puts freedom of expression at stake: “This increasingly silences demonstrators against the terrible colonization of Palestine and limits freedom of expression,” the party said in a statement on X.
The slogan has been in vogue among Palestinian organizations since the 1960s and is now frequently heard in pro-Palestinian circles. However, the text can also be interpreted as a call to violence, the House of Representatives believes. Large groups of Jews experience the text as threatening. After all, a ‘free Palestine’ from the river (the Jordan) to the sea (the Mediterranean) would mean that there is no longer room for the state of Israel in its current form, and its disappearance cannot take place without violence, say opponents of the slogan.
‘From the river to the sea’ therefore goes further than a call to create a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, as is the wish of most of the international community. Denk and Bij1, however, do not believe the slogan is a call to violence. According to the parties, the text means that there should be one state in the area called Palestine, with equal rights for everyone who lives there.
Bij1 points out that the Mauritshuis, where the text was projected, is next to the Torentje, where Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s office is. However, it was chairman Vera Bergkamp who deprived Simons and Van Baarle of the floor in the House of Representatives, and a majority of the House of Representatives subsequently adopted a motion to ban that slogan.
Also read: Chamber President Bergkamp bans Palestinian slogan ‘From the river to the sea’: ‘I don’t want to hear it anymore’