‘Thank you, we are with you’: Palestinian activists stand in solidarity with Marc Lamont Hill

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Munther Amira, 48, is the Coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) in the occupied West Bank, a collective of grassroots activists dedicated to non-violent resistance against the Israeli occupation.

Amira is a Palestinian refugee who was born in raised in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. He has served numerous stints in Israeli prison for his activism. In December 2017, he was arrested while protesting for the release of Ahed Tamimi and her mother from prison, and eventually sentenced to six months.

Over the past week, Amira and his fellow activists have staged multiple protests and actions in support of Dr. Marc Lamont Hill after he was fired from CNN for a speech he gave at the United Nations in which he criticized the Israeli occupation and the abuse of Palestinian rights.

Mondoweiss spoke to Amira about his support for Dr. Hill and why he believes it is important for Palestinians to stand in solidarity with the activist.

Mondoweiss: What motivated you to stage protests in support of Dr. Marc Lamont Hill?

Amira: He paid a very high price by taking a decision to stand with the Palestinian people.  We came and we tried to say thanks to Marc for being with us not as Palestinians. When Marc took a stand for Palestine, he was taking a stand with human rights. Marc stands with the values of humanity in general. The Palestinian cause is a case of people who seek peace, who seek freedom: the freedom to live on their own land.

Munther Amira carries a Palestinian flag and a poster reading “From Ferguson to Palestine, #BlackLivesMatter, #PalestinianLivesMatter” during a 2016 protest in the occupied West Bank. (Photo courtesy of Munther Amira)

Mondoweiss: Why is it important for Palestinians to stand with Dr. Hill?

Amira: After we heard he was fired from CNN, we tried to bring awareness to the people here in Palestine, that we have people around the world who are being targeted for supporting us. One of the main issues we are facing as Palestinians, is that the mainstream international politicians and media don’t want people to even stand with the Palestinian people.

We must stand in solidarity with him because he was in solidarity with us. We are trying to send a message to the activists who support us, we will not leave you alone. We are trying to send a message from here in Palestine, to CNN and to the Americans in general, that we are fighting together with people all over the world for the values of justice peace and freedom.

Mondoweiss: Were you surprised by Marc’s speech and how vocal he was in his support for Palestine?

Amira: No, we weren’t so surprised, because Marc has come to Palestine before and has spoken out about the occupation. Marc is one of the activists with the Black Lives Matter movement who has worked very hard to create a dialogue between BLM and the Palestinians.

Munther Amira and other Palestinian activists with a delegation of Black Lives Matter activists in the occupied West Bank in 2016 (Photo courtesy of Munther Amira)

We have received activist from the BLM movement more than once here in Palestine. We are in the same struggle, and have a very strong relationship with BLM activists. We are supporting them like they are supporting us. He was one of the people who worked to connect our movements with each other, to have a good relationship, and to show the people that we are fighting for the same values.

There are so many people around the world supporting us, who have faced serious problems with their work, with their families and friends, and with their governments. Marc was one of these people who stands in a serious way, and because of that he paid this high price — losing one of the platforms and places where he can express himself. I think that journalists and newspapers need to give the space for all people to express themselves, not just people who agree with their political agenda. The only thing that Marc did, is he expressed himself, and he was punished for it.

Mondoweiss: What message has CNN, whose motto is ‘Facts First’, sent by firing Dr. Hill?

Amira: CNN has never been objective, and now this has solidified that. They don’t care about the facts, especially when it comes to Palestine. The last thing they would care about is that we are suffering here in Palestine under occupation. One of the reasons we are standing with Marc, is because it’s not easy to have someone with a platform like CNN who speaks about Palestine in a truthful way, and does not conform to mainstream pro-Zionist narratives.

CNN is always against the Palestinians, trying to show that we are terrorists, people who just want to die. But he [Dr. Hill]  shows the other face of the Palestinians: that we are people seeking peace. This is the only thing we are fighting for, for peace. We are not terrorists, we are people who want to continue living on their land.

Firing Marc was a huge loss for CNN. He is one of the few people who is trying to show the real facts on the ground. By firing him, CNN is saying they are not objective, they are against human rights, they are against the freedom of speech for the people, and they stand against basic human rights.

Mondoweiss: If you could say something to Dr. Hill, what would you say?

Amira: We are with you. Thank you for your support for the Palestinian people, and please do not give up. We welcome you to Palestine, to show you how you and others can continue supporting freedom for the Palestinians.

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Regarding Dr. Marc Lamont Hill’s firing from CNN for repeating a political slogan at a UN conference: From the Washington Post: The phrase “from the river to the sea,” they observed, “has been used by anti-Israel terror groups” and is “widely perceived as language that threatens the existence of the State of Israel.” From an Irgun poster (circa 1947) quoting Zeev Jabotinsky: “The river Jordan has two banks: one is ours, and so is… Read more »