An Ontario politician delivered a controversial anti-Israel chant while speaking at a pro-Palestine rally.
Sarah Jama, an independent member of Ontario’s legislature who was recently ousted from the NDP caucus, addressed demonstrators at a Hamilton, Ont. rally.
In a pre-written speech, the Hamilton Centre MPP recited the “from the river to the sea” slogan, a popular refrain among Palestinian protesters which critics call antisemitic and potentially genocidal.
“We must all do what we can to put an end to this horrific violence and for all of us here and the people around the world in solidarity with Palestine, our demands will be fulfilled,” said Jama.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
The refrain calls for the establishment of an Arab state from the Jordan river on Israel’s east coast, to the Mediterranean Sea on Israel’s west coast, which would require the elimination of the world’s only Jewish majority state.
In a statement to True North, B’nai Brith Canada spokesperson Richard Robertson said that the chant is not only hateful, but genocidal.
“‘From the river to the sea’ is a chant calling for a one state solution,” said Robertson.
“The chant is advocating for the erasure of the population of the Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This is not only a hateful refrain but a genocidal slogan.”
Robertson said that Canadians should not tolerate the use of the slogan, as it conflicts with Canadian values.
“All Canadians, regardless of their subjective opinions, should not tolerate the use of this slogan,” he said. “It is laced with hate and counterintuitive to the notion of a peaceful protest. Sarah Jama’s conscious usage of the slogan is deplorable, but it is not surprising. She has continuously abused the privilege of her public office in order to incite hatred.”
Jama was recently expelled from the Ontario NDP caucus after she made numerous statements condemning Israel’s counteroffensive against Gaza, though NDP leader Marit Stiles insists that Jama was expelled from caucus for creating an unsafe work environment with staff and breaking the trust of her colleagues.
The Ontario legislature voted to censure Jama and strip her of her privilege to be called upon by the Speaker of the House until Jama retracts her “antisemitic” statements, something Jama has refused to do. The NDP voted against this motion.
Jama continues to sit as an independent in the Ontario legislature.