New Rule: From the River to the Sea | Real Time with Bill Maher | Transcript

Bill Maher tackles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the slogan "From the River to the Sea," used by some Palestinians to express their desire for a single Palestinian state in all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea
New Rule From the River to the Sea Real Time with Bill Maher

Episode aired on December 15, 2022

In Bill Maher‘s “New Rule: From the River to the Sea” segment from Real Time with Bill Maher, he tackles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the slogan “From the River to the Sea,” used by some Palestinians to express their desire for a single Palestinian state in all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Here’s a summary of the main points:

Main argument: Maher argues that while the “From the River to the Sea” slogan may express Palestinian aspirations, it’s unrealistic and unhelpful in achieving peace. He emphasizes that:

It’s a non-starter for Israel: The slogan implies the elimination of Israel, which is unacceptable for most Israelis and makes negotiation difficult.
It ignores the reality of a two-state solution: The international community and most Palestinians agree that a two-state solution is the only viable path to peace.
It fuels Israeli fears: The slogan reinforces Israeli anxieties about Palestinian intentions and makes them less likely to make concessions.

Alternative approach: Maher suggests that Palestinians should focus on promoting a two-state solution and building trust with Israelis. He argues that:

A two-state solution is the only realistic option: It recognizes the legitimate national aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Building trust is essential for peace: Both sides need to take steps to build trust and overcome decades of mistrust and violence.
Focusing on shared interests can be helpful: Palestinians and Israelis have common interests, such as economic prosperity and regional stability, that can be a basis for cooperation.

Overall, Maher’s message is that while the “From the River to the Sea” slogan may have emotional resonance for some Palestinians, it’s counterproductive to achieving peace. He encourages Palestinians to focus on a two-state solution and building trust with Israelis.

Here are some additional details from the video:

• Maher acknowledges the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli occupation and criticizes Israeli policies he views as oppressive.
• He also criticizes Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, for its role in perpetuating the conflict.
• The video sparked controversy, with some viewers criticizing Maher for being insensitive to Palestinian suffering and others praising him for speaking out against the “From the River to the Sea” slogan.

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And finally, New Rule. I know, it’s supposed to be that magical time of year, but maybe, what we all really need right now, is a good dose of realism. I see a lot of nativity scenes when I’m out, as you always do before Christmas. And I can’t help thinking about where that manger really is. It’s in the West Bank on Palestinian land, controlled by the Palestinian authority. In 1950, the little town of Bethlehem was 86 percent Christian, now it’s overwhelmingly Muslim. And that’s my point tonight, things change. To 2.3 billion Christians, there can be no more sacred site than where their Savior was born but they don’t have it anymore. And yet, no Crusader Army has geared up to take it back. Things change. Countries, boundaries, empires. Palestine was under the Ottoman Empire for 400 years, but today, an ottoman is something you put under your feet.


(CLEARS THROAT) The city of Byzantium became the city of Constantinople, became Istanbul. Not everybody liked it, but you can’t keep arguing the call forever. The Irish had the entire island to themselves, but the British were starting an Empire, and well, the Irish lost their tip.



They, uh…

(AUDIENCE LAUGHING, CHEERING) They blew each other up over it for 30 years, but eventually everybody comes to an accommodation, except the Palestinians. Was it unjust that even a single Arab family was forced to move upon the founding of the Jewish state? Yes. But it’s also not rare. Happening all through history, all over the world, and mostly what people do is make the best of it. After World War II, 12 million ethnic Germans got shoved out of Russia, and Poland, and Czechoslovakia because being German had become kind of unpopular.


A million Greeks were shoved out of Turkey in 1923, a million Ghanaians out of Nigeria in 1983, almost a million French out of Algeria in 1962, nearly a million Syrian refugees moved to Germany eight years ago. Was that a perfect fit? And no one knows more about being pushed off land… (SCOFFS) …than the Jews. Including being almost wholly kicked out of every Arab country they once lived in.

Yes, TikTok fans. Ethnic–

(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Ethnic cleansing happened both ways. In Fiddler on the Roof, the family is always moving to stay one step ahead of the Cossacks, but they deal with it. When they’re leaving Anatevka, they say, “Hey, it wasn’t so great anyway.”


(CHUCKLES) “Come on. Like other countries don’t have roofs you could fiddle on.”





Now, that’s not how they really felt, but they were coping. They coped. Because sometimes, that’s all you can do. History is brutal and humans are not good people. History is sad and full of wrongs, but you can’t make them unhappen because a paraglider isn’t a time machine. People get moved, and yes, colonized. Nobody was a bigger colonizer than the Muslim army that swept out of the Arabian Desert and took over much of the world in a single century. And they didn’t do it by asking. There’s a reason Saudi Arabia’s flag is a sword. Kosovo was the cradle of Christian Serbia, then it became Muslim. They fought a war about it in the ’90s, but stopped. They didn’t keep it going for 75 years. There were deals on the table to share the land called Palestine. In 1947, ’93, ’95, ’98, 2000, 2008. And East Jerusalem could have been the capital of a Palestinian state that today might look more like Dubai than Gaza. Arafat was offered 95 percent of the West Bank, and said no. The Palestinian people should know, your leaders and the useful idiots on college campuses who are their allies are not doing you any favors by keeping alive “The River to the Sea” myth. I mean where do you think Israel is going?

Spoiler alert, nowhere.


It’s one of the most powerful countries in the world with the 500-billion-dollar economy, the world’s second largest tech sector after Silicon Valley, and nuclear weapons. They’re here, they like their bagel with a schmear, get used to it.


What’s happening to Palestinians today is horrible, and not just in Gaza, in the West Bank too. But wars end with negotiation and what the media glosses over is– It’s hard to negotiate when the other side’s bargaining position is you all die and disappear. (SCOFFS) I mean, the chant “From the River to the Sea.” Yeah, let’s look at the map. Here’s the river, here’s the sea. Oh, I see, it means you get all of it. Not just the West Bank which was basically the original UN partition deal you rejected because you wanted all of it and always have. Even though, it’s indisputably also the Jews’ ancestral homeland. And so, you attacked and lost. And attacked again and lost. And attacked again and lost. As my friend, Dr. Phil says, “How’s that working for you?”


Look at what Mexico used to own. All the way up to the top of California, but no Mexican is out there chanting, “From the Rio Grande to Portland, Oregon.”


Because they chose a different path. They got real and built a country that’s the world’s 14th biggest economy now. Because they knew the United States wasn’t going to give back Phoenix, any more than Hamas will ever be in Tel Aviv.


One of…


One of the leaders of Hamas says, ‘Save your time and fanciful dreams. In a few years, God willing, we’ll be discussing the situation in the region post-Israel.’ I’m sorry, who’s the one with imaginary dreams? If I give you the benefit of the doubt and say your plan for a completely Jew-less Palestine isn’t that all the Jews should die. (SMACKS LIPS) What is the only other option? They move. You move all the Jews. (SCOFFS) Okay, I got to warn you, there’s gonna be some kvetching.


(SCOFFS) You move all the Jews and we do this with what? A fleet of trucks called Jew-haul?


And to where are we moving this entire country? Texas?

(AUDIENCE LAUGHING) Sure, they have room and I guess we could put the Wailing Wall on the border and kill two birds with one stone.


Or we could just get serious.

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