FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites

Photo Source Flisadam Pointer | CC BY 2.0

Temple University’s administration announced the unsurprising news that it has found no grounds to punish or investigate Professor Marc Lamont Hill for his speech at the United Nations on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Yet, the university’s Board of Trustees felt compelled, nonetheless, to issue a statement further maligning Dr Hill, albeit indirectly this time, by quoting the slanderous language of others against him.  

Remarkably, the Board’s statement implicitly acknowledges there was nothing inherently offensive in Dr Hill’s speech. Rather, the university’s objection lies in the way “many regard[ed]” it and how it was “widely perceived” or “broadly criticized.” In essence, the university was unable to reasonably rebuke what was ultimately a call for justice and freedom for the Palestinian people, the colonized indigenous nation that has continuously inhabited the land between the River Jordan and Mediterranean Sea for millennia. It is therefore stunning and unprecedented that a university would hold its professor responsible not for his words, but for the ways in which others interpret them.

It is also worth noting that no such statement was issued by the Board of Trustees following the exposure of Temple journalism professor Francesca Viola, who admitted to posting conspiracy theories against Muslims and immigrants. Among other things, her anonymous account posted the word “scum” under a photo of Muslims praying and called to “get rid of them.”

It beggars the imagination to consider why Temple’s Board of Trustees would ignore the abhorrent and overtly racists posts in the account of one professor, while exceeding its mandate in order to rebuke an avowedly anti-racist professor, not for the content of his speech, but for the ways in which that speech was received.  

In the second paragraph of the statement, Temple’s Board attempts to divest Dr. Hill from his professional position and identity as a scholar and intellectual using wording crafted to deny his right to academic freedom. The claim that Dr. Hill was speaking as a private citizen and therefore his words simply fall under the purview of the First Amendment belies the reality that his speech as a Temple faculty member is fully protected under the principles of academic freedom. In fact, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is explicit that “freedom of extramural utterance is a constitutive part of the American conception of academic freedom, and the AAUP has investigated and censured many institutions for dismissing faculty members over their extramural utterances.”  

The unprincipled way in which members of Temple’s Board have berated and threatened an African American professor for criticizing Israel’s Jim Crow apartheid, while turning a blind eye to the egregious oppression faced by Palestinian students and scholars every day, a reality Dr. Hill described in his U.N. speech, is reprehensible. Comments by individuals on the Board of Trustees, the collective statement by the Board and their failure to defend academic freedom are a testament to the alarmingly corrosive power that defenders of Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid exert on the academy.

In a Philadelphia oped, Stephen Cozen, a member of Temple’s Board, proclaimed himself an authority on anti-Semitism before describing Hill’s words as “hate speech.” For good measure, he cast that disparaging net onto TAUP (Temple Association of University Professors), describing them “an association of folks who promote intersectionality, a practice which has fostered anti-Semitism from the left as well as the right.”  

Ironically, the true anti-Semitism lies in conflating a 6000-year old faith with a contemporary settler-colonial nation-state that explicitly apportions human rights based on one’s religion. Indeed, it is anti-Semitic, and patently false, to assume that all Jews are of one mind that reflexively takes offense at criticism of Israel.

Marc Lamont Hill’s call for Palestinian freedom from the river to the sea upholds the the noble tenets of justice relevant to all monotheistic religions. It is also an acknowledgement of the basic historic truth that we Palestinians are not merely some miscellaneous Arabs clustered in the West Bank and Gaza, but a native and ancient nation that also comes from Akka, Haifa, Yafa, Nazareth, Jerusalem, the Galilee and all parts of Historic Palestine. This fact, which Israel has long sought to erase, is what Israel’s defenders find objectionable. But it is a fact nonetheless.

More articles by:

Susan Abulhawa is a bestselling novelist and essayist. Her new novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water, was released this year and simultaneously published in multiple languages, including German.

January 24, 2019
Ramzy Baroud
False ‘Victories’: Is the PA Using the ‘State of Palestine’ to Remain in Power?
Binoy Kampmark
Eyeing the White House: the Democratic Field
Russell Mokhiber
Single Payer Gold Standard HR 676 Rest in Peace
David Swanson
The World Will End in Fire
David Macaray
Celebrity Bullshit
Dean Baker
How Worried Should We be If China’s Growth Rate Slows to 6.4%?
Wim Laven
What Makes America Great?
January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail