USACBI reiterates its support for Marc Lamont Hill and we stand by his principled critique of Israeli settler-colonialism and occupation of historic Palestine.
Since 1977 the United Nations has hosted an International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians, an occasion passed by Resolution 181 of the General Assembly, in place since 1947. The occasion for Hill’s speech has been omitted from most media accounts deriding his support for Palestinian freedom. It is perfectly fitting that, especially on this occasion, he speak out forcefully against the policies of the State of Israel that have long denied Palestinians their basic human rights.
In his speech, Hill used a phrase, “a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” that envisions full rights to mobility, citizenship and self-determination for Palestinians – and, indeed, all people – throughout their historic homeland. He came under severe attack by a variety of defenders of Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism and was fired as a commentator by CNN.
In the ensuing days, Hill issued a statement in which he expressed regret for the reception of his message. While we do not believe Hill’s principled words required any further clarification, let alone an apology, Hill was clear that he was not apologizing for or backtracking on his principled approach to justice in Palestine. He made explicit that he was speaking of a single democratic state throughout historic Palestine. This is of course anathema to pro-Israel organizations and individuals who wish to maintain Israel as an exclusively Jewish state. It is that affront to democracy that Hill’s comment spotlights.
We support Hill’s UN speech and reject any interpretation that demands apology in order to police solidarity and limit the capacity to imagine Palestinian freedom on mainstream media platforms.
Patrick O’Connor, chair of Temple University Board of Trustees, has fueled misinterpretation by labeling Hill’s remarks as anti-Semitic “hate speech.” He says he is searching for “remedies” to this issue. This is a crude attempt to push Hill’s remarks outside the boundaries of protected academic speech according to AAUP guidelines for faculty employment. We must resist this publicity stunt, which misrepresents protected speech as a criminal act to harm Hill’s livelihood. O’Connor purposely confuses the role of a Board of Trustees with that of a board of a corporation.
In combination with CNN’s attempt to censure Hill by firing him, O’Connor’s attack on Hill represents an effort to make criticism of the state of Israel an exception to sacrosanct academic freedom and protected speech.
USACBI stands with Marc Lamont Hill and those like him who stand for Palestinian self-determination. Rights, self-determination, and dignity should be upheld not in fragmented territories, but throughout Historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.
- We ask everyone with access to Philadelphia to join a protest today, December 6, from 4-6 PM at Temple University to let administrators know that we will not stand for any attempts to discipline, censure, or otherwise punish Marc Lamont Hill. Address: 1801 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19122. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/339960753482488/
- A number of faculty at Temple University have taken a stand against the attempts to silence Marc Lamont Hill and the threats to academic freedom that they pose. View the faculty statement in the Philadelphia Inquirer and at http://academicfreedomattemple.org. If you are a member of the Temple faculty, please join this statement.
- Write to the President and Board of Trustees at Temple University to defend Prof. Hill’s comments and his right to speak. Temple President Englert’s address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The trustees can be written at email@example.com or via their secretary, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Karga Fantasma/Flickr