Stand with Marc Lamont Hill and for Palestine

December 3, 2018

On November 28, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill gave a 20-minute speech in defense of Palestinian rights before the United Nations. Within 24 hours, CNN fired him as one of its political analysts. In the following statement, the International Socialist Organization expresses its solidarity with Dr. Hill and with the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

THE INTERNATIONAL Socialist Organization stands firmly in support of scholar and activist Dr. Marc Lamont Hill against his reprehensible termination by CNN for speaking in defense of Palestinian human rights at the United Nations.

We call upon all anti-racist activists and organizations to unite in defense of Dr. Hill and all other advocates for equality and justice in Palestine.

Hill is a principled advocate for all oppressed groups and a fighter against racial and economic injustice. In his speech at the UN on a day of designated solidarity with Palestinians, Hill sought to highlight the ongoing war on Black and Brown people here in the United States, connecting it to the 70-year Israeli occupation in Palestine.

As Hill described in his speech:

We saw the connections between the police in New York City who are being trained by Israeli soldiers and the type of policing we were experiencing in New York City. We began to see relationships of resistance, and we began to build and struggle and organize together. That spirit of solidarity that is bound up not just in ideology but in action is the way out.

Marc Lamont Hill
Marc Lamont Hill (Flisadam Pointer | flickr)

Less than 24 hours later, right-wing Israeli advocacy groups pressured CNN, where he was one of the few Black commentators, to fire him. Now, Hill faces an attack by the chair of the Board of Trustees of Temple University, where he is a professor, and criticism by the university administration. These attacks — in the name of defending Israel’s crimes — are violations of Dr. Hill’s First Amendment rights and violate the American Association of University Professor guidelines for academic freedom.

CNN is censoring Marc Lamont Hill for speaking truth and demanding justice for oppressed people, asserting he is “spewing anti-Semitism.” Hill has long made clear his stance against anti-Semitism. Like the founders of the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), Hill unconditionally opposes racism in every one of its forms — including anti-Semitism — and he clearly distinguishes between Israel’s political policies in Palestine and the Jewish people as a religious and social community.

THE RIGHT-WING press has been particularly incensed at Hill’s use of the popular slogan “from the river to the sea” toward the end of his address, insisting that this turn of phrase is a call to anti-Jewish violence. But it is nothing of the sort. The idea that Palestinians should have freedom and equality from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea has been the aspiration and demand of Palestine’s native inhabitants since their land was first carved up and occupied by colonial powers.

“From the river to the sea” is an acknowledgment of the humanity of the more than 700,000 indigenous Palestinians displaced from their homes 70 years ago during Israel’s foundation. It’s an acknowledgment of the more than 7 million Palestinian refugees living in the diaspora today; of the 230 human beings slain by Israeli soldiers during this year’s Great Return March in Gaza, like Razan al-Najjar, Yaser Murtaja and Ibrahim Abu Thuraya; and of the everyday oppression of Palestinians enduring military occupation and apartheid in the West Bank and Israel.

The notion that CNN has terminated Hill on grounds of “enabling racism” is entirely absurd and hypocritical. In reality, the network has engaged in an act of blatant persecution by targeting an activist who has done no more than recognize the human rights of Palestinians enshrined by international law.

Dr. Hill has a proven record of tireless humanitarian work on behalf of all oppressed and marginalized groups, including the Jewish community. CNN’s own record on this front is weak to say the least. It has had no qualms about offering national television platforms to outspoken anti-Semites such as David Duke, Steve Bannon and Arthur Jones, making a total mockery of any pretense by CNN to act in defense of racial justice in this case.

If nothing else, the attack on Hill — like those that have been leveled against far too many authors, activists and organizers before him — proves once again the point made by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald that Palestine advocacy is the exception to free speech in today’s Western democracies.

CNN shows contempt for the basic tenets of freedom of speech and expression by terminating the employment of an esteemed journalist for simply speaking in defense of the rights and liberties of human beings in Palestine.

This crime is made even more shameful by the fact that the remarks for which Marc Lamont Hill was fired were delivered at the United Nations, the international body which is the primary institution tasked with defending human rights on a global scale.

Marc Lamont Hill must be immediately reinstated, and offered a full and public apology.

As Dr. Hill eloquently said of the fight for Palestinian rights: “We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires.”

Justice in this case requires an unconditional defense of Dr. Hill in words and in action, and the left and progressive community should continue to stand up until justice is served.

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