CNN fires contributor who called for ‘free Palestine from river to sea’ at UN
D Dipasupil (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File)
CNN said Thursday it had fired a contributor who called for a “free Palestine from river to sea” -- a slogan associated with Palestinian extremists’ calls for the destruction of Israel -- in a speech at the United Nations on Wednesday.
"Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN," a spokesperson for the channel said in a brief statement published on the television channel's website.
Marc Lamont Hill, a Temple University professor and CNN political commentator, used the slogan during an address at the UN at an event marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots 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,” Lamont Hill said.
Those last nine words, coined in 1964 with the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization and later adopted by Palestinian extremists including Hamas to call for the destruction of Israel, sparked immediate backlash.
Lamont denied any part of his remarks called for the destruction of Israel and insisted that the phrase has been used historically and continues to be a phrase "used by many factions, ideologies, movements, and politicians."
Israel’s Consul General in New York Dani Dayan slammed Lamont Hill as a “racist, a bigot, [and] an antisemite” and said that his remarks, made while under CNN and Temple University contracts, were “appalling”.
Lamont Hill called for the elimination of the State of Israel from the map. Previously he expressed his admiration for antisemite Louis Farrakhan. MLH is a racist, a bigot, an antisemite. The fact that he is all this while in the payroll of @CNN and @TempleUniv is appalling— Dani Dayan (@AmbDaniDayan) November 29, 2018
Lamont Hill defended his remarks in a string of tweets in which he argued the phrase predates Hamas by some 50 years and has a variety of meanings.
Hill addressed the issue on Twitter, writing that "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," he tweeted. "The speech very clearly and specifically said those things."
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.— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 29, 2018
"I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice," he continued. "I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech."
I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice.— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 29, 2018
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.
“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,” he wrote in a later tweet.
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.— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 29, 2018
Lamont Hill ended his string of tweets defending the speech by asserting that he genuinely believes in the arguments and genuinely wants "peace, freedom, and security for everyone."
But reports by The Washington Times and Mediaite on Thursday cited a CNN spokesperson as saying that “Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN.”
Elsewhere in his speech, Lamont Hill endorsed the Palestinians’ right to “resistance” against Jewish civilians to achieve their political goals, without categorically condemning the use of violence.
He said that Palestinians must be allowed “the same range of opportunity and political possibility” as Israel, which sometimes fails to distinguish between Palestinian civilians and fighters.
“If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself. 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,” he said.
There are approximately 6.41 million Palestinians living in the region extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea -- including 1.8 million Arab Israelis.
The ratio of Israelis to Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip has been one of the main arguments in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to a one-state solution in which Palestinians have full autonomy but not full democratic rights.
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He didn't knoe the meaning of the sentence !!!