Jewish Voice for Peace - Philadelphia stands in solidarity with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and denounces CNN’s decision to fire him, any punitive action by Temple University against him, and the media campaign currently being waged to discredit and silence him. Dr. Hill’s speech at the United Nations about his recent trip to the occupied West Bank was an eloquent defense of equality and dignity for all people, principles that our own Jewish values compel us to defend as well. Those same values inspire us to stand up for Dr. Hill today, proclaiming that the speech was in no way antisemitic.

Any spokespeople from the Jewish community taking part in this cynical frenzy to destroy Hill’s career do not speak for us, nor do they speak for a growing number of Jews around the world who question or reject the occupation of Palestine. We understand these attacks as part of larger campaign to silence supporters of Palestinian human rights, and we will not be silent.

Much of the anger being directed toward Dr. Hill has focused specifically on a single phrase. Hill concluded his 20-minute presentation by saying that justice requires “a free Palestine—from the river to the sea.” Hill’s critics have repeated the false talking point that these words are a call for violence against Jews. Patrick O’Connor, Chair of the Temple University Board and Philadelphia attorney, has gone as far as to call them “hate speech.” Let us be clear: yearning for freedom and self-determination is not hateful, offensive, or antisemitic.

Those of us who have had the opportunity to work and organize alongside Palestinian people understand that this phrase has been used for decades as an expression of hope for a day when none of the various forms of Israeli oppression—the apartheid of occupation and settlement in the West Bank; the anti-Arab discrimination recently codified in Israel’s “Jewish Nation-State Law;” and the punishing, total isolation and blockade of Gaza now in its twelfth year—will exist.

As the Philadelphia chapter of the national Jewish Voice for Peace organization, we know well that Dr. Hill has been an invaluable voice for justice here in Philadelphia and around the country. Temple University leadership should be grateful for Marc Lamont Hill’s integrity; his powerful work as a teacher, both inside and beyond the classroom; and his well-earned reputation as a real mensch who stands for justice and dignity for all. We demand that his academic freedom and his right to advocacy be protected!

Jewish Voice for Peace -- Philadelphia