CNN Fires Marc Lamont Hill For Urging Israel Boycott. Do Black Journalists Have The Right To Defend Palestinians?

Written by Dana Sanchez

CNN fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday after the university professor encouraged countries to boycott Israel and “free Palestine from the river to the sea” — a phrase used by Hamas and other anti-Israel groups.

Hill made the comments during a speech at the United Nations.

“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” a CNN spokesperson told Mediaite.

Temple University in Philadelphia, where Hill teaches media studies and urban education, stood by Hill and defended his right to free speech.

“Marc Lamont Hill does not represent Temple University and his views are his own,” Temple said in a statement, Washington Times reported. “However, we acknowledge that he has a constitutionally protected right to express his opinion as a private citizen.”

Marc Lamont Hill
Marc Lamont Hill, 2008. Photo: Wayne Riley/Wikicommons

There was an instant backlash on Twitter after Hill’s speech, including anger toward CNN for being hypocritical, calls to immediately rehire Hill, and a petition.

“How can CNN fire @marclamonthill while keeping onboard @RickSantorum whose views of Palestinians are literally genocidal?” tweeted Mehdi Hasan, a columnist for The Intercept.  “Unless the news network’s position is that the Palestinians have no rights and no humanity? And only Israel lives and perspectives matter?”

The Anti-Defamation League and National Council of Young Israel condemned Hill’s remarks as anti-Semitic.

The phrase “from the river to the sea” implies replacing Israel with a Palestine stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, Hill critics said.

“Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel,” said Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice president for international affairs, in a Jewish Journal interview.

Hill disputed that characterization, insisting he’s not anti-Semitic, he’s pro-Palestinian.


Here’s an excerpt from Hill’s U.N. speech:

“Contrary to western mythology, black resistance to American apartheid did not come purely through Ghandi and nonviolence,” Hill said. “Rather, slave revolts and self-defense and tactics otherwise divergent from Dr. King or Mahatma Gandhi were equally important to preserving safety and attaining freedom. If we are to operate in true solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must allow the Palestinian people the same range of opportunity and political possibility. If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself. We must prioritize peace, but we must not romanticize or fetishize it. We must advocate and promote nonviolence at every opportunity, but we cannot endorse a narrow politics of respectability that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in the face of state violence and ethnic cleansing.”

Peter Beinart, a CNN and Atlantic contributor and professor at Newmark School of Journalism, CUNY, disputed the anti-Semitism accusations against Hill.

“Calling Marc an anti-Semite. I’ll happily moderate a debate btw you and him,” Beinart tweeted. “1) You’ll see that he’s not an anti-Semite. He believes in human rights for all people, including Jews. 2) You’ll realize he knows more about Israeli policy towards Palestinians than you do.”