Who is Marc Lamont Hill? CNN Commentator Defends Comments on Palestine After United Nations Speech

CNN's Marc Lamont Hill made comments some have deemed anti-Semitic following a speech at the United Nations on Wednesday.

The Washington Examiner writes that Hill gave the speech at an event held in conjunction with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

His comments including encouraging the international community to boycott Israel until the country adopts more humanitarian practices towards Palestinians.

"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.

"From the river to the sea" is a phrase often used by groups, including Hamas, who wish to remove Israel and replace the country with a Palestinian state that would stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

When challenged about the comment on Twitter, Hill responded to say that he believes in a "single secular democratic state for everyone."

Hill also said that the phrase predates Hamas and has a variety of meanings.

CNN ended Hill's contract with the network on Thursday, a move that some critics decried as censorship. 

In his speech, Hill spoke of multiple laws in Israel that discriminate against Palestinians "simply because they are not Jewish.” 

"It is clear that any freedoms naturally endowed to all human beings are actively being stripped away from Palestinians through Israeli state-craft," Hill said.

He later stated that Israel frequently fails to distinguish between Palestinians who are civilians and those who are combatants, punishing both at will.

"If we are to operate in true solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must allow the Palestinian people the same range of opportunity and political possibility. If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself. We must prioritize peace, but we must not romanticize or fetishize it," Hill said in the speech. "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."

It isn't the first time Hill has been questioned about statements made in relation to Israel and Palestine. Last year, he tweeted that Trump was repugnant for calling on Palestine to reject terrorism, prompting several, including The Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg to challenge Hill's comments.

Goldberg's tweets to Hill are no longer available.

In the speech, Hill spoke on the Trump administration's policies in regard to Palestine, including moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May and cutting funding for Palestinian refugee camps while routinely backing up Israel and the country's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"As an American, I am embarrassed that my tax dollars contribute to this reality. I am frustrated that no American president since the start of the occupation has taken a principled and actionable position in the defense of Palestinian rights. And I am saddened, though not surprised, that President Trump’s administration has further emboldened Israel’s behavior through its recent actions" Hill said before saying that Trump was not an extreme example of Israeli support, but rather the only recent U.S. president to follow through on promises made during his campaign in regards to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Hill is also a professor at Temple University, in addition to his work with CNN.

Updated 11/29, 6:40 pm: This story has been updated to include the information that CNN terminated its contract with Hill.

Updated 12/3 3:50 a.m.: This story's previous reference to “historic Palestine” has been deleted; the legal and historical status of a Palestinian state remains a subject of controversy and debate.

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