In a move decried by critics as blatant suppression of dissent and an attack on all who advocate for the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people, CNN on Thursday fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill for daring to denounce the oppression of Palestinians and endorse “a single secular democratic state for everyone” over the failed two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
CNN terminated Hill just 24 hours after he delivered a speech at a meeting of the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, in which he expressed support for Palestinians’ resistance against brutal Israeli occupation, denounced Israel for actively depriving Palestinians of basic human rights, and called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
Slamming CNN for caving to right-wing defenders of Israel’s decades-long occupation by firing a commentator for the crime of doing political commentary, Intercept journalist Ryan Grim began circulating a petition calling on the network to apologize and reverse its decision.
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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
Everyone understands CNN wouldn’t fire a contributor who said they think Israel has a biblical right to the West Bank, yes? In fact they almost certainly have contributors who believe that. It’s straight-up discriminatory to fire @marclamonthill and that’s how it should be framed
— David Klion (@DavidKlion) November 30, 2018
Jewish Voice for Peace echoed the demand that CNN reverse course and praised Hill for speaking “powerfully” in defense of Palestinian rights.
.@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
In a series of tweets after his firing on Thursday, Hill dismissed the notion that his remarks were anti-Semitic or that they amounted to a call for the destruction of Israel.
“I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice,” Hill wrote. “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.”
“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,” Hill added. “No amount of debate will change what I actually said or what I meant.”
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
Yousef Munayyer — executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights — argued in a column for the Huffington Post that Hill was “targeted by what can only be described as an organized campaign to silence his principled and consistent advocacy against racism and for the equal treatment of all people, including Palestinians.”
“CNN fired him because he believes Palestinians, too, fit into a vision where all people deserve equal rights,” Munayyer continued. “For CNN, that was just too much.”
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
Describing CNN’s decision to terminate Hill as “shameful and cowardly,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald argued that Hill’s firing “is 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 US generally to accommodate dissent.”
Greenwald added that Hill’s ouster lays bare the fact that in the boundaries of discourse established by the corporate media, “it’s forbidden” to acknowledge that the so-called “two-state solution” is unviable because “illegal Israeli settlements have grown so rapidly and have eaten up so much Palestinian land in the West Bank that such a solution is now essentially impossible.”
The only remaining options, Greenwald argues, are apartheid or a single state “in which both Israelis and Palestinians share full and equal political rights.”
“Professor Hill, like all morally decent people, opposes apartheid,” Greenwald continued. “Therefore, he advocates a single state in which both Palestinians and Israelis have equal political rights.”