CNN has parted ways with contributor Marc Lamont Hill after a speech the college professor made on Israel and Palestine sparked outrage. But not everyone agrees that the firing was fair, and many say that the network went overboard in its decision.
In response to Hill’s firing, several supporters have come forward, including Intercept journalist Ryan Grim, who began circulating a petition calling on CNN to apologize and reverse its decision.
Fellow Intercept writer Glenn Greenwald also argued that CNN‘s decision to part ways with Hill was not only “shameful and cowardly, but also “a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique the Israeli government, and for the ability of journalism and public discourse in the U.S. generally to accommodate dissent.”
We’re already close to 1,000 signatures on a petition to urge the cowards at CNN to re-hire @marclamonthill and apologize. I think it would take about 500k to get them to rethink, which should easily be doable https://t.co/RtipEds2tP
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) November 30, 2018
Marc was on of the most principled voices on CNN in opposing injustice. Because he dared to include Palestinians in this vision they trashed him. You can tell @CNN what you think of that here https://t.co/4Fcw3DN0RI or by calling 404-827-1700 https://t.co/WirAM9uWIP
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) November 29, 2018
On Thursday, during a speech at the United Nations, Hill denounced the oppression of Palestinians and instead endorsed “a single secular democratic state for everyone” over the failed two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
According to NBC News, amid objections to Hill’s speech by the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, a CNN spokesperson confirmed Hill was no longer under contract just 24 hours later.
While standing before the U.N.’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, Hill, a professor of media studies at Temple University, called for countries to essentially boycott and divest from Israel in response to them actively depriving Palestinians of basic human rights.
“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots 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,” Hill said in the speech given for the U.N.’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
While that statement may seem innocent on the surface, the ADL considers the term “river to the sea” code for the destruction of Israel often used by Hamas and groups seeking its destruction.
.@marclamonthill spoke up powerfully to the UN in honor of the Intl. Day of Solidarity With Palestinians and CNN has fired him. Call on @CNN to reverse this decision. For justice, equality and dignity #IStandWithMLH
— JewishVoiceForPeace (@jvplive) November 30, 2018
But Hill refutes the allegations accusing him of anti-semitism. “My reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone,” Hill said on Twitter. “It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza. The speech very clearly and specifically said those things.”
“I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination,” Hill tweeted, adding, “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.”
This isn’t a case of throwing rocks and hiding hands. I genuinely believe in the arguments and principles that I shared in the speech. I also genuinely want peace, freedom, and security for everyone. These are not competing ideals and values.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 29, 2018
However, Hill, who is a professor at Temple University, did address the controversy surrounding his words in an op-ed he penned for the Philadelphia Inquirer over the weekend.
“As a communicator, I must take responsibility for the reception of my message. In this case, the final words of my speech became a dangerous and harmful distraction from my political analysis,” he wrote. “Rather than talking about the plight of Palestinians, or engaging in tough but necessary conversations about a positive and successful way forward for both parties, the bulk of the conversation has been about my choice of words. To this extent, I did no favors to Israelis or Palestinians. For this too, I am deeply sorry.”