I do not know if Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill adopted his extreme pro-“Palestine-as-Arab” position due to a deep delve into the history of Zionism, Arab nationalism, and complex political and diplomatic developments in the Middle East over the past century or more or simply because, as a self-defined progressive, he felt that must be part of his identity.
Or maybe he reached out to the cause due to his own racial intersectionality. Whatever galvanized him, his speech at the United Nations not only lost him his CNN commentator’s contract, but highlighted the dangerous intellectual course that anti-Zionism has taken recently.
“is devoid of anything resembling intellectual arguments or factual information. Quite the contrary. His essay represents the sort of disinformation that is rooted in a bigoted worldview in which the Jewish state is considered illegitimate and a terrorist regime like Hamas should be bolstered.”
In other words, Hill was well into a deep slide at that time—one displaying all of the hallmarks of ignorance, willingness to accept propaganda claims and self-righteous haughtiness.
Following the outbreak of attacks on him, Hill took to Twitter to mount a defense. I think it only fair to detail his thinking, the better to counter his opinions, which I can only conclude are held by many in the academic milieu, lecturers and students. He clarified that
“I believe in a single secular democratic state for everyone. This is the only way that historic Palestine will be free.”
“My reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza. The speech very clearly and specifically said those things. No amount of debate will change what I actually said or what I meant.”
And he continued …
“It’s also ABSURD and illogical to suggest that a speech that explicitly called for redrawing borders and granting full citizenship for Palestinians IN Israel was also calling for its destruction. People either didn’t listen to the speech or they’re being dishonest.”
As directly to his geography, he noted,
“I concluded my remarks with a call to ‘free Palestine from river to sea.’ This means that all areas of historic Palestine —e.g., West Bank, Gaza, Israel— must be spaces of freedom, safety, and peace for Palestinians.”
“In my speech, I talked about the need to return to the pre-1967 borders, to give full rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to allow right of return. No part of this is a call to destroy Israel. It’s absurd on its face,” adding, “I was talking about full citizenship rights IN Israel and a redrawing of the pre-1967 borders.”
Typical of the defense mounted by radical non-Zionist Jews, IfNotNow demanded in an online petition that “CNN reinstate Marc Lamont Hill because advocating for Palestinian rights should NOT be a fireable offense. In supporting Palestinian freedom, Marc Lamont-Hill was in no way being anti-Semitic.”
They neglected to include his “river to the sea” remark, which was the easy way for Jews-bereft-of-rationality to avoid the central essence of his thinking.
We need not forget what framework Hill was speaking in. Riyad Mansour, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said at that Nov. 29 meeting,
“The Palestinian people’s struggle is not directed against Judaism as a religion, but against the colonial occupation of their land and people, said during a special observance today.”
As Hill knew, he was not attending a neutral forum of discussion but he was yet another actor castigating Israel, Zionism and the Jewish people’s right to national identity. This is the framework in which Hill spoke during that 393rd meeting of the U.N.’s Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on Nov. 29 (interestingly enough, the U.N. Secretary‑General called for talks to support “intra-Palestinian reconciliation;” in other words, first Hamas and the PLO make peace before Israel can even contemplate continuing in negotiations).
Let us now take advantage of Hill’s words and try to set the record straight for our attention should be devoted less about Hill himself (although this cross-fertilization process among progressive politics, fanatic Islam and simple Jew-hatred deserves its own analysis) and more about the actual content of what he spoke and the truth of his words and his insights.
No other people until the 20th century, except Jews, had a national identity with “Historic Palestine.” Arabs conquered and occupied it only in 638 C.E., and lost it quickly to Crusaders, Mongols, Mamelukes and Turks, and then the British. They never established a state or even an entity of geopolitical character. They insisted throughout the first two decades of the British Mandate over Palestine that they were Southern Syrians and that Palestine should be united with Syria.
Moreover, that “Historic Palestine” includes Jordan founded in 1922 when the Mandate for Palestine was territorially limited, temporarily, as the language was “postpone or withhold application,” to the lands west of the Jordan River as per Article 25 of the League of Nations decision. What do we do with the king? Is Hill a monarchist? Would he want to leave Abdullah in charge of all the so-called “Palestinians” there?
Let us be forthright: the sole national group with any genuine “historic” connection to Palestine is the Jews, and again I quote from the Mandate’s preamble:
“Recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country … ”
Hill said in his remarks that “he called for embracing the movement to adopt boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel,” and that “solidarity means recognizing the Palestinian right to self-defence, stressing that Palestinians must not be shamed for resisting in the face of State violence and ethnic cleansing.”
In a July 26, 2014 CNN broadcast (that is, four years ago), Hill granted that “the murder of children is indefensible,” but then charged Israel with that indefensible crime, noting that “but children died a month before, Palestinian children died a month before the Israeli children died.” And since Arab children died, his conclusion was
“This starts with occupation. There’s an apartheid state in Gaza. There’s an apartheid state in the region. That“s what we need to talk about. That’s what starts as resistance. It’s not terrorism.” (my emphasis)
On May 3, 2017, Hill had tweeted: “Trump’s position on Israel/Palestine is repugnant. His call for Palestine to ‘reject hatred and terrorism’ is offensive & counterproductive.” So, nothing the Arabs of Palestine do is terrorism?
Hill should know that “resistance” in the history of the Arabs of historic Palestine means one thing and one thing only: killing Jews. Violently. Thousands of Jews had been ethnically cleansed from their historic homeland in Judea and Samaria, and also Gaza, during the 1920-1948 period by Arabs.
The “resistance” continued into the 1950s and 1960s by the fedayeen and then the PLO. Professor Hill needs be asked, by his students and his colleagues, if the PLO is the Palestine Liberation Organization and it was founded in 1964—before there was an Israel occupation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and before any “settlements” had been constructed—then why did that 1967 war break out? Was the reason the very existence of Israel?
But Hill knows the answer since he wants no Jewish state.
Hill has rolled down to rock-bottom anti-Zionism.
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and commentator.