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Michael Jansen: An unfair fight
December 07, 2018
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The US Cable News Network (CNN) has fired Marc Lamont Hill, a regular contributor, after he gave a controversial address at the UN General Assembly’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. During his speech he pointed out that 2018 marks the 70th twin anniversaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Palestinian Naqba (Catastrophe). He then went through the text of the declaration and systematically demonstrated that its principles have been totally ignored in the case of the Palestinian people, who were denied self-determination, were attacked and driven from their homes by Israel during its 1948-49 war and have been denied their rights ever since then.

He quoted the declaration’s text which states that all people “are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and then argued that Israel denies freedom, equality and rights to all Palestinians, whether citizens of Israel — Palestinians who remained in their homes, towns and villages during Israel’s war of establishment — or inhabitants of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, occupied by Israel in 1967. Furthermore, Hill stated, “ is clear that any freedoms naturally endowed to human beings are actively being stripped from Palestinians through Israeli statecraft.”

He listed the ways Israel carries out this operation by denying Palestinians housing, essential services, education, and using violence, torture, imprisonment without just legal process, exile, and administrative detention. The list of injustices is long and well known by members of the international community but Western powers ignore Israel’s practices and actions. He urged countries and peoples who are critical of Israel to translate the fine words of the Universal Declaration into deeds by embracing boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to put pressure on Israel to mend its ways.

He concluded by calling on the gathering to “commit to political action, grassroots action, local action and international action that will give (Palestinians) what justice requires. And that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea. “While the entirety of his address clearly angered Israel and its supporters, his conclusion, unfortunately, crossed a red line. According to Israelis, he had suggested either transforming Israel into a secular, bi-national democratic state where Palestinians and Israelis could coexist or replacing the Israeli state with an Arab Palestinian state.

The Zionists who created Israel to be a Jewish entity with a Jewish population claim that the very words “from the river to the sea” spoken by Palestinians or their supporters mean the extermination or ethnic cleansing of Israelis.

Of course, right-wing Israelis often use the phrase “from the river to the sea,” meaning from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, to state their ambition to occupy the area in perpetuity. They also seek to follow the dictum of Theodor Herzl, the founding father of Israel, involving the transfer of Palestine’s native population across the borders into neighbouring states. This is precisely what Israel has been doing since the Naqba.

Hill was branded an “anti-semite” and said to be calling for “Jewish genocide” and Israel to be wiped off the map. Hill was fired by CNN the very day he delivered his address.

Writing in the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, Gideon Levy observed that Hill “didn’t stand a chance” against the pro-Israeli US establishment. Levy argued that there is “no room for expressions that may offend the Israeli occupation” of Palestinian land. He observed, “On a liberal day it’s permissible to say ‘two states’ as long as you do it in a whisper.”

Levy also pointed out that if “Hill had called for the establishment of a Jewish state between the Jordan and the sea (he) would have safely continued holding down his job.”

Levy continued, “You can attack the Palestinians in America uninterrupted, call to expel them and deny their existence. Only don’t dare to touch Israel..the country exists above suspicion.”

Critics of CNN’s decision compare Hill’s sacking to the channel’s retention of commentators who express anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim views. A petition to restore Hill’s contract is being circulated and Michigan Congresswoman Rashid Tlaib, who is of Palestinian decent tweeted, “Calling out the oppressive policies in Israel, advocating for Israelis and Palestinians to have peace and freedom is not antisemitic. We all have a right to speak about injustice.” She also extended her support to BDS. She has refused to join a trip to Israel organised for new members of Congress by the pro-Israel lobby and plans to head her own mission to the West Bank, where her relatives live, to show colleagues how Palestinians cope with occupation.

It is important to note that Marc Lamont Hill, 39, is one of the few independent African-American analysts and commentators in US media. In addition to CNN, he has contributed to Huff-Post Live and Fox News and hosts his own television show featuring current events and popular culture. Since he is seen as influential in the black community, Israel and its friends were quick to put him in his place.

Hill earned his first degree in education and Spanish at Temple University in Philadelphia and his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently teaches media studies at Temple University. He promotes education among black and Latino youth and rightly regards the Palestinian situation as a product of Western colonialism. In his book, Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond, he denounces the white “colonial” mentality that remains dominant in US policy whether on the domestic scene (Ferguson and Flint where blacks are abused) or “Beyond,” Palestine and other countries struggling to exist.

Temple University has, so far, said he does not represent the university and his views are his own. “However, the university acknowledged “that he has a constutionally protected right to express his opinion as a private citizen.” Temple University can expect to come under pressure from pro-Israeli organisations which are determined to remove critics of Israel and its policies toward Palestinians. Even undergraduates are targeted if they support BDS or Palestinian rights. These pro-Israel groups fight against the election of members of Congress, block appointments to the federal government, and seek the dismissal of journalists who write about Israeli colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Other universities have caved in when professors, lecturers, or students expressed ideas or views seen as hostile to Israel and its friends.
The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East
affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict

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