UNAC statement on the CNN firing of Marc Lamont Hill

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The following statement was published by the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) on Dec. 3. Supporters of Israel and Zionism have repeatedly charged in the mainstream media that Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s statements at the UN on behalf of the rights of the Palestinian people are “anti-Semitic” and have demanded that Temple University fire him, as CNN has already done. Patrick O’Conner, chairman of Temple’s board, labeled Hill’s address to the UN as “hate speech,” while Temple President Richard Englert stated that some people view Hill’s remarks as a “perceived threat.”

At the same time, however, many Temple instructors and students have rallied to Professor Hill’s defense, pointing out that critics have distorted his remarks. A student-initiated march in support of Hill took place on campus on Dec. 6.

Temple University professor and CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN after giving a powerful speech at the United Nations in support of Palestinian rights. The Nov. 29, 2018, UN meeting was to commemorate the 70th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The meeting also fell on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes by the newly declared state of Israel and hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were emptied and destroyed.

Marc Lamont Hill spoke of the many violations of Palestinians’ human rights by the authorities in Israel.  Not one fact that he mentioned in his talk was disputed by CNN, but his contract was terminated with a simple statement that said, “Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN.”

In his statement to the U.N., Hill stated that “at the current moment, there are more than 60 Israeli laws that deny Palestinians access to full citizenship rights simply because they are not Jewish. From housing, to education to family reunification, it is clear that any freedoms naturally endowed to all human beings are actively being stripped away from Palestinians through Israeli statecraft.”

He went on to speak about the recent National State Law that makes it explicit that Israel is not a state for the Palestinian people who live there and made illegal settlement expansion a national value. He also spoke about the special situation of the people of Gaza who live in the world’s largest “open-air prison.” In Gaza, unarmed Palestinians protesting, on their own territory, the conditions Israel imposes on them have been shot in the thousands by Israeli forces.

Jan. 2019 Hill protest (Joe Piette)

Temple students rally for Professor Hill. (Joe Piette)

Hill equated the Palestinian struggle to the struggle for Black liberation in the U.S. and specifically mentioned the solidarity that was expressed between the Palestinian people and the people of Ferguson, Mo., as they protested the cop murder of Michael Brown.

Hill also said that words are not enough and that we must all take action. He said that justice requires a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” This last statement has been especially criticized by Zionist organizations and individuals as meaning, in their minds, that the Palestinians want genocide of the Jewish people. But what it calls for is simply freedom for Palestinians in their own land. If Zionists don’t like this statement then we must ask them, “In which area from the river to the sea should the Palestinian people not be free?” Unfortunately, through their actions, their answer has been all of it.

As CNN proclaims itself a bastion of freedom of speech, it denies this freedom to Marc Lamont Hill and all who speak truth to power. They afford freedom of speech only to those who agree with the reactionary politics of the CNN editors and censors.

UNAC demands: Reinstate Marc Lamont Hill! End all U.S. aid to Israel! Free Palestine from the river to the sea! Stop the Wars at Home and Abroad!

Top photo: Marc Lamont Hill. (Ouzounova / SplashNews)