CNN fired longtime contributor Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday after Hill made comments about Israel during a speech at a United Nations-organized protest.
Hill, who also is a media studies professor at Temple University, called at the close of his speech at the United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
This rhetoric, often used by Hamas and others that seek to destroy Israel, refers to giving control of the basically the entirety of Israel to the Palestinians by wiping Israel off the map.
Hill, whose speech rankled Jewish groups not only for those remarks but also for his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, retains his position at Temple as of now, according to Fox News.
Hill has complained that his detractors attached meaning to his statements that wasn’t there. “At no point did I endorse, support or even mention Hamas,” Hill tweeted on Wednesday before he was fired. “This is dishonest. I was very clear in my comments about desiring freedom, justice, and self-determination for EVERYONE.”
After he was fired on Thursday, he added to his explanation. “I support Palestinian freedom,” he wrote again on Twitter. “I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice. 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.”
He further said the phrase “river to the sea” dates to the early 20th century and “has never been the exclusive province of a particular ideological camp.”
He said he meant “all the areas of historic Palestine – the West Bank, Gaza and Israel – must be spaces of freedom, safety, and peace for Palestinians. The idea that this is a Hamas phrase is simply untrue.”
In still another tweet, Hill mentioned that in his speech, he had discussed not destroying Israel but returning to the pre-1967 borders and give full rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel and allow the controversial right of return. “No part of this is a call to destroy Israel,” Hill said. “It’s absurd on its face.”
Critics said it would be easier to believe Hill’s remarks had been misinterpreted if he did not have such a long and established record of hostility to Israel.
In May, he wrote a piece for HuffPost about seven myths he sees in the discussion of the Israel-Palestine issue.
Among the “myths” he sought to debunk was that the conflict was religious in nature.
He said the history shows otherwise. And beyond that, “by framing the conflict as religious, we are encouraged to see it as an internecine squabble between two equally earnest parties who are in possession of competing religious texts or scriptural interpretations,” he wrote. “Simply put, this is not about religion. It’s about land theft, expulsion and ethnic cleansing by foreign settlers to indigenous land.”
To the notion the problem is too complicated for easy solution, he wrote that this is “an excuse to sidestep a very simple reality: This is about the 70-year struggle of a people who have been expelled, murdered, robbed, imprisoned and occupied. While there’s certainly a need to engage the finer points of the conflict, we can never lose sight of this basic and very uncomplicated point.”
According to the Daily Wire, when Hill was asked by Sean Hannity of Fox News to respond to anti-Semite minister Louis Farrakhan’s comments that Judaism is a “gutter religion,” Hill said “I don’t know whether he’s an anti-Semite … those quotes are severely out of context.”
In May 2017, he labeled President Trump’s remarks calling on Palestine to “reject hatred and terrorism” to be “offensive and counterproductive.”