Left­ists urge CNN to re­hire Hill af­ter Is­rael re­mark

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

CNN’s de­ci­sion to drop Marc La­mont Hill has met with re­sis­tance on the left, with some prom­i­nent lib­er­als call­ing for the net­work to re­hire him and chal­leng­ing the widely held view that his com­ments be­fore a United Nations panel were anti-Semitic.

Har­vard pro­fes­sor Cor­nel West, “The Avengers” star Mark Ruf­falo, Demo­cratic Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib and a host of jour­nal­ists were among those who rushed to Mr. Hill’s de­fense af­ter CNN re­leased the liberal com­men­ta­tor from his con­tract last week fol­low­ing an up­roar over his speech.

Mr. West said he was in “deep sol­i­dar­ity” with Mr. Hill, while Mr. Ruf­falo said that “crit­i­ciz­ing Is­rael is not an­tiSemitic” and urged sup­port­ers to sign a pe­ti­tion posted by the left-wing group If Not Now call­ing for him to be re­in­stated im­me­di­ately.

“Once again we are see­ing the Amer­i­can Jewish es­tab­lish­ment cen­sor con­ver­sa­tions about Pales­tinian rights by falsely claim­ing an­ti­semitism, and it is set­ting a ter­ri­fy­ing prece­dent,” the pe­ti­tion reads.

Mean­while, Ms. Tlaib tweeted: “Call­ing out the op­pres­sive poli­cies in Is­rael, ad­vo­cat­ing for Pales­tini­ans to be re­spected, and for Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans alike to have peace and free­dom is not an­tisemitic.” While CNN of­fered no ex­pla­na­tion for why it cut Mr. Hill, a me­dia stud­ies pro­fes­sor at Tem­ple Univer­sity, the move came a day af­ter his Nov. 28 speech con­don­ing the use of force by Pales­tini­ans against Is­rael and con­clud­ing with a call for a “free Pales­tine from the river to the sea.” That mantra has long been as­so­ci­ated with the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion and, more re­cently, the U.S.-des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist group Ha­mas, which has used the phrase to re­fer to the elim­i­na­tion of Is­rael, but Mr. West in­sisted that Mr. Hill meant no such thing.

“Hill’s words — though used by the PLO and Ha­mas — were not in­tended to be ei­ther an­tisemitic or a call for geno­cide,” Mr. West said in an op-ed for The [U.K.] Guardian.

The back­lash comes with the de­bate over what con­sti­tutes anti-Semitism in­ten­si­fy­ing as the pro­gres­sive left in­creas­ingly sides with the Pales­tini­ans against Is­rael by, for ex­am­ple, back­ing the an­tiIs­rael Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions move­ment.

Miriam El­man, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Syra­cuse Univer­sity, said the State Depart­ment and the In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Al­liance both list “deny­ing the Jewish peo­ple the right to self-de­ter­mi­na­tion” in their def­i­ni­tions of anti-Semitism.

She said ex­am­ples would in­clude “claim­ing that the ex­is­tence of the State of Is­rael is a racist en­deavor” or “re­ject­ing the le­git­i­macy of Jewish na­tion­al­ism and ad­vo­cat­ing that Is­rael should be re­placed with an­other state: ‘a Pales­tine from the river to the sea’ in which Jews would ef­fec­tively be­come a mi­nor­ity in their own coun­try.”

“So I do think that Hill’s com­ments were an­tisemitic in ef­fect, even if they were not in­tended to be con­strued in this way,” Ms. El­man said. “Marc La­mont Hill claims to be an ex­pert in Mid­dle East af­fairs, thus he should know that ‘Pales­tine from the River to the Sea’ has long been a call for the elim­i­na­tion of Is­rael.”

Sharon Nazrian, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of the Anti-Defama­tion League, told the Jewish Jour­nal: “Those call­ing for ‘from the river to the sea’ are call­ing for an end to the state of Is­rael.”

Mr. Hill apol­o­gized for the “con­fu­sion” in an op-ed in The Philadel­phia In­quirer, deny­ing that he sup­ported anti-Semitism and say­ing he was “stunned” and “sad­dened” by the re­sponse.

“Rather than hear­ing a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion, many heard a dog-whis­tle that con­jured a long and deep his­tory of vi­o­lence against Jewish peo­ple,” he said in the ar­ti­cle. “Al­though this was the fur­thest thing from my in­tent, those par­tic­u­lar words clearly caused con­fu­sion, anger, fear, and other forms of harm. For that, I am deeply sorry.”

Oth­ers de­fend­ing Mr. Hill in­clude Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Cam­paign for Pales­tinian Rights, and Code Pink. Those de­nounc­ing his com­ments in­clude Is­raeli Gen­eral Coun­sel Dani Dayan, for­mer Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial Se­bas­tian Gorka, the Na­tional Coun­cil of Young Is­rael and the Repub­li­can Jewish Coali­tion.


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