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Temple University Condemns Marc Lamont Hill’s Israel Comments, Will Not Punish Him

Illustration for article titled Temple University Condemns Marc Lamont Hill’s Israel Comments, Will Not Punish Him
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In a public meeting on Tuesday, Temple University’s Board of Trustees issued a statement admonishing professor Marc Lamont Hill for controversial comments he made at the U.N. last month about Israel and Palestine. But while they expressed their “disappointment, displeasure, and disagreement with” Hill’s remarks, they also affirmed his right to free speech.

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“We recognize that Professor Hill’s comments are his own, that his speech as a private individual is entitled to the same constitutional protection of any other citizen, and that he has through subsequent statements expressly rejected anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence,” the trustees said in a prepared statement that was shared at the end of the meeting, according to Philly.com.

Hill made waves last month for comments supporting Palestine’s statehood in a speech given at the United Nations for the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People—the most incendiary of which was a statement he made saying he supported “a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

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Hill, who had worked as a CNN contributor prior to the Nov. 28 speech, was quickly fired from the cable news network after his use of the phrase “from the river to the sea,” which critics said was explicitly anti-Semitic and echoed the slogans of groups who want to destroy Israel altogether. The trustees’ statement also singled out the phrase, noting that it is “widely perceived as language that threatens the existence of the State of Israel.”

As the outrage snowballed last month, Hill quickly clarified and apologized for his comments.

“I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice,” he said on Twitter. “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.”

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Hill—a tenured professor at Temple—has kept a low-profile since the speech, and as Philly.com notes, it would likely have been difficult for the university to fire him. The site reports that Hill did not attend the Trustees meeting. “Reached later by phone, he said he was aware of the trustees’ action but unable to immediately comment on it,” wrote reporter TyLisa Johnson.

Staff writer, The Root.

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DISCUSSION

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KinjaWidgetNinjaDigits

I’m glad Temple didn’t do anything. They shouldn’t. Even if he didn’t have tenure. Universities should stand up for the free speech rights of their professors so long as that speech doesn’t break the law. His didn’t.

I was a bit skeptical of his explanation, which is that he didn’t believe the phrase “from the river to the sea” was too thoroughly hijacked a phrase to still be used for something other than a euphemism by people who don’t actually want a reasonable solution that results in Jewish and Palestinian people finding a way to co-exist peacefully.

But now after reading the recommended stories, I believe him. Truly I do.

I mean, it’s not for a good reason mind you, but I still believe him.

A few quotes by him from one of the recommended articles:

I wouldn’t vote for her. I’m voting for the Green Party. … They’re not going to win this election. But if the differences between the two candidates aren’t vast enough, then I would rather introduce a third candidate to build a movement.

I would rather have Trump be president for four years and build a real left-wing movement that can get us what we deserve as a people, than to let Hillary be president and we stay locked in the same space where we don’t get what we want.

This is the sort of thing that only someone who’s either deeply fucking stupid or someone who isn’t completely stupid but is so heavily insulated from the consequences of a Trump Presidency that they can deal in absolutist abstractions would say.

One group of people that falls into the latter category would be tenured professors at well funded universities. Sure, plenty of them somehow manage to remain conscientious human beings, but sometimes that insulation so far removes you from the daily realities many people face that, well, you wind up voting for Jill Stein.