CNN Contributor Marc Lamont Hill told the United Nations on Wednesday that Israel should be replaced by a Palestinian state, and defended the Palestinian use of violence against Israel.
Hill was speaking at the “U.N. International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” which provides an annual platform for extremist rhetoric against Israel. He was present to express his views as an “invited representative of civil society.”
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) November 28, 2018
Hill referred to the founding of Israel in May 1948 as “the great catastrophe,” borrowing the term “Nakba,” which is used by Palestinians. (He neglected to mention that the Palestinians had joined the surrounding Arab states in 1948 in attacking Israel with the intention of destroying it, and killing or expelling the Jewish population.) Hill continued with various other accusations against Israel, adding that he had refused to drink “Israeli water” on a flight from “Palestine” to New York. (There are no Palestinian airports.)
Hill then endorsed the use of violence by Palestinians, arguing that black Americans had also used violence:
As a Black American, my understanding of action and solidarity action is rooted in our own tradition of struggle. As Black Americans resisted slavery, as well as Jim Crow laws that transformed us from a slave state to an apartheid state, we did so through multiple tactics and strategies. It is this array of tactics that I appeal to as I advocate for concrete action from all of us in this room.
Solidarity from the international community demands that we embrace boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as a critical means by which to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinian people.
Black resistance to American apartheid did not come purely through Gandhi and nonviolence. Rather, slave revolts and self-defense and tactics otherwise divergent from Dr. King or Mahatma Gandhi were equally important to preserving safety and attaining freedom. We must allow—if we are to operate in true solidarity with 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. 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 fact of state violence and ethnic cleansing [sic].
Hill did not specify, in his remarks, whether he condemned violence by Palestinians against Israeli civilians — though he claimed that Israel “systematically fails to distinguish between civilians and combatants.”
He added that he was inspired to fight for the Palestinian cause by the fact that pro-Palestinian activists had supported the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014. He also compared the U.S. to the genocidal Syrian dictatorship and the apartheid regime in South Africa, among others: “We must struggle together in order to resist because state violence in the United States and state violence in Brazil and state violence in Syria and state violence in Egypt and state violence in South Africa, and state violence in Palestine are all of the same sort,” Hill declared.
Hill concluded with a call for Israel’s destruction, using a familiar radical political slogan (emphasis added):
So as we stand here on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the tragic commemoration of the Nakba, 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.
The area “from the river to the sea” includes almost all of Israel, plus areas under Palestinian administrative control. The phrase amounts to a rejection of Israeli sovereignty.
Afterwards, Hill took to Twitter to deny that he had called for Israel’s destruction, saying he meant “full citizenship rights IN Israel and a redrawing of the pre-1967 borders.” But he also said, “I believe in a single secular democratic state for everyone. This is the only way that historic Palestine will be free,” meaning he wants Israel to be replaced.
CNN describes Hill as “a CNN political commentator and one of the leading intellectual voices in the country.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
(Full disclosure: the author worked for Human Rights Voices from 2009-2010.)