There is only one story today in our community, the firing by CNN of commentator Marc Lamont Hill, an activist and Temple University professor of media studies, because he gave a speech Wednesday calling for the liberation of Palestine “from the river to the sea.”
The demands for Hill’s head from supporters of Israel that evidently led to his firing as well as expressions of solidarity from Palestinian supporters in the aftermath show that the end of the two-state-solution is bringing about open ideological conflict in the U.S. establishment, with supporters of Palestinians being accused of anti-Semitism, much as they are in the U.K.
Here’s Hill’s speech to the UN (posted by Jadaliyya) in a program of international solidarity with the Palestinian people. The 39-year-old scholar had just returned from a visit to Palestine and said he was thirsty because he was boycotting Israeli water. Hill went on to say that Palestinians have been stripped of their rights for 70 years since the Nakba, described Palestinian persecution with great specificity and said that their resistance must be honored in all forms, chiefly by supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS. The speech notes that black resistance in the U.S. was not strictly nonviolent:
Solidarity from the international community demands that we embrace boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as a critical means by which to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinian people. This movement, which emerges out of the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society offers a nonviolent means by which to demand a return to the pre ’67 borders, full rights for Palestinian citizens, and the right of return as dictated by international law.
Solidarity demands that we no longer allow politicians or political parties to remain silent on the question of Palestine. We can no longer in particular allow the political left to remain radical or even progressive on every issue from the environment to war to the economy. To remain progressive on every issue except for Palestine. Contrary to Western mythology, Black resistance to American apartheid did not come purely through Gandhi and nonviolence. Rather, slave revolts and self-defense and tactics otherwise divergent from Dr. King or Mahatma Gandhi were equally important to preserving safety and attaining freedom. We must allow—if we are to operate in true solidarity with Palestinian people, we must allow the Palestinian people the same range of opportunity and political possibility. If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself. We must prioritize peace. But we must not romanticize or fetishize it. We must advocate and promote nonviolence at every opportunity, but we cannot endorse a narrow politics of respectability that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in the fact of state violence and ethnic cleansing.
Hill ends with a call “to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action, and international action that will give us what justice requires. And that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
The speech became a flashpoint for Israel defenders to say that anti-Zionists are haters.
Late yesterday CNN issued a terse statement saying that Hill was “no longer under contract,” while Hill defended himself in tweets:
“I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things,” Hill wrote.“My reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone,” Hill continued in a separate tweet. “It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza. The speech very clearly and specifically said those things. No amount of debate will change what I actually said or what I meant.”
Rashida Tlaib, MI congresswoman-elect who supports BDS, supported Hill, in a sign that the clash over anti-Semitism/Palestinian solidarity in the U.K. is coming here and in a hurry:
Calling out the oppressive policies in Israel, advocating for Palestinians to be respected, and for Israelis and Palestinians alike to have peace and freedom is not antisemitic.
@CNN, we all have a right to speak up about injustice any and everywhere. @marclamonthill
Dan Shapiro, the former Obama ambassador to Israel who now lives in Israel and works for a quasi-official thinktank, was disgusted by Hill’s statement.
Until today, I never heard of of @marclamonthill (don’t watch a lot of cable TV). This is disgusting. Calling for the elimination of Israel is anti-Semitic and (being thankfully futile) does Palestinians no favors.
Yousef Munayyer at Huffpo recognizes the moment:
Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Temple University and a fierce advocate for equality, was perhaps the strongest, most articulate and most passionate voice against racism and bigotry among CNN’s regular contributors. Today, CNN fired him because he believes Palestinians, too, fit into a vision where all people deserve equal rights. For CNN, that was just too much.
Marc was targeted by what can only be described as an organized campaign to silence his principled and consistent advocacy against racism and for the equal treatment of all people, including Palestinians.
IfNotNow, the renegade young Jewish group, defends Hill and is circulating a petition.
@CNN just fired @marclamonthill, one day after his speech at the UN advocating for Palestinian human rights. This should not be a fireable offense. Sign and share our petition calling on CNN to reinstate Marc Lamont Hill immediately.
Here is Omar Baddar on the “manufactured controversy.” He points out that Netanyahu has helped to create a one-state reality.
By contrast, Marc supports a one-state vision where everyone has equal rights. Whatever you think of this vision, it isn’t calling for “destruction”, but merely a transformation from a discriminatory state that privileges some over others into an equal state for all.
He notes that an occupied people have a right to resist under international law, including by violent means.
all violence against civilians is despicable & illegitimate. But if you have a problem with the right of occupied people to resist the theft of their lands & the stripping of their rights (NOT thru terrorism), it’s not Marc you have a problem with, it’s international law.
& if u haven’t protested Israel’s atrocities killing thousands of Palestinian civilians (condemned by every major human rights org, including Israeli ones), but are troubled by Marc’s acknowledgment of the right to resist, make an effort to rid yourself of moral hypocrisy.
Mitchell Plitnick calls Baddar’s commentary an “outstanding and important rebuttal to the campaign of falsehoods and character assassination directed against” Hill. Yet a further sign that this is a which-side-are-you-on moment in the awareness of the death of the two state solution.
Elon Glickman, a Birthright bolter, also supports Hill:
This is nothing short of censorship. I was terrified enough to think that I may not be allowed into Israel because I support Palestinians liberation. Now we’re seeing people get fired from their jobs for doing.
@CNN reinstate @marclamonthill immediately!
Israel’s consul general in New York welcomed the news and called Hill anti-Semitic. From the Algemeiner:
Israel’s Consul General in New York, Ambassador Dani Dayan, welcomed the news of Hill’s dismissal. “I welcome CNN’s decision today to end Marc Lamont Hill’s association with their network,” he said in a statement. He also called for “Americans to stand strong against the dangerous anti-Semitic idea that Jews cannot legitimately live as a free people in their homeland. Anti-Semitism and dangerous political extremism cannot be allowed to become mainstream.”
The Zionist Organization of America links Hill’s comments to the attack on the Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11, saying “anti-Semite Hill… [was] demanding Israel’s violent destruction” — and wants more from CNN and Temple University, too (which has defended Hill only on First Amendment grounds):
We urge CNN to rectify this missed opportunity, and to also strongly condemn Hill’s egregious, Jew-hating, violence-inciting, error-filled rant.
Read Hill’s tweet defending his speech:
My reference to “river to the sea” was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza. The speech very clearly and specifically said those things. No amount of debate will change what I actually said or what I meant.
Here’s Marc Lamont Hill in Nazareth four years ago with the Dream Defenders, dedicating himself to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
“We came here to Palestine to stand in love and revolutionary struggle with our brothers and sisters. We come to a land that has been stolen by greed and destroyed by hate… And we stand next to people who continue to courageously struggle and resist the occupation.”
We’ll keep this post updated.