(JTA) — CNN has fired Marc Lamont Hill, a political commentator and professor at Temple University, after he used a phrase associated with Palestinian extremists – “a free Palestine from the river to the sea” – during a speech at the United Nations.
A CNN representative told Mediaite on Thursday that Hill was no longer working for the news channel.
Hill, a professor of media studies and urban education at Temple who also hosts the syndicated television show “Our World with Black Enterprise,” made the remark on Wednesday at an event held for 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,” Hill said.
“Palestine from the river to the sea” was a slogan of the Palestine Liberation Organization beginning with its founding in 1964, claiming a Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and rejecting control by Israel of any land in the region, including areas controlled by Israel prior to 1967. It later became a popular political slogan used by Palestinians who reject compromise with Israel, including the terror group Hamas, which calls for the destruction of Israel.
Hill’s remarks drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League; Dan Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama; and Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, among others.
The ADL called his remarks “divisive” and “destructive.”
“Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel,” Sharon Nazarian, the group’s senior vice president for international affairs, told the Jewish Journal. “It is a shame that once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel.”
Shapiro called Hill’s use of the “river to the sea” phrase “disgusting,” while Dayan called him “a racist, a bigot, an antisemite.”
Hill defended his remarks, saying in a tweet that the phrase predates Hamas by some 50 years.
“It also has a variety of meanings. In my remarks, which you clearly didn’t hear, I was talking about full citizenship rights IN Israel and a redrawing of the pre-1967 borders,” he retweeted.
Hill also suggested that Palestinians have a right to use “resistance” against Jewish civilians to achieve their aims without specifically ruling out violence.
“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.
Hill later said in a 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.”