Aylesbury councillor apologises for pro-Palestine Facebook post

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It contained a phrase which some people consider to be antisemitic

An Aylesbury-based councillor has apologised for sharing a Facebook post containing the phrase, “from the river to the sea”, which some consider antisemitic.

The Councillor for Aylesbury North Raj Khan shared a poster for a pro-Palestine march containing the controversial slogan on 28 October.

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He then deleted the post – created by an Aylesbury resident – before the peaceful protest went ahead in the town’s Vale Park on 4 November.

Councillor Raj KhanCouncillor Raj Khan
Councillor Raj Khan

The councillor of 26 years told the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service that he “apologised” for the post containing the phrase and “would not wish to cause anyone offence”.

He said: “I had not known about the controversy. Once I realised what it meant I took it down immediately. As soon as I realised it caused offence, I removed it on all my posts.”

The full phrase, which goes “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has been used by a broad spectrum of people since the 1960s.

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It refers to land that was previously home to Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in modern-day Israel.

The phrase has been heard at pro-Palestine rallies calling for an end to Israel’s ongoing air strikes and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, following the massacre of Israelis by Hamas militants on 7 October.

Some claim that “from the river to the sea” merely calls for Palestinians to live freely, and for Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

However, others say that the phrase in effect calls for the eradication of the Jewish state of Israel and is antisemitic.

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Councillor Khan said: “All I believe in is peace for both sides. I value the lives of the Israelis and the Palestinians. I am a peace activist.

“I value human life. It is not geographical or religious based. I am very worried about what is happening in Palestine as millions of people are.”

The councillor said he shared his now-deleted post to publicise the peaceful protest in Aylesbury, which he described as a positive event that was attended by more than 1,000 people.

He added: “I took it down well before the event. I thought it was just a rhyme. I respect humanity on both sides.”

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Councillor Khan is not the only person to have landed themselves in hot water for using the “from the river to the sea” phrase over the last month.

Last week, the Labour Party suspended Andy McDonald as an MP for using the slogan during a speech at a pro-Palestinian rally.

Leicester City F.C.’s Hamza Choudhury also recently used the phrase in a social media post, which he subsequently deleted and apologised for.