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Temple University students rally in support of Marc Lamont Hill

By Michael Z. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Dec 12, 2018 - 7:07:05 AM

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PHILADELPHIA—Organized by Temple Students For Justice in Palestine, 17 grassroots organizations participated in a student rally and march held in support of embattled adjunct professor Marc Lamont Hill at Temple University on Dec. 6.

Dr. Hill a former commentator for CNN lost his job following a speech given at the UN in late November where he condemned the 50-year military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the systematic disenfranchisement of Palestinian citizens of Israel through apartheid laws.

He called for a continued effort for global support for Palestinian resistance in their struggle for fundamental human rights. He ended his speech with a call for Palestine to be free from “the river to the sea.” The aftermath of his remarks drew immediate condemnation. His detractors jumped on the esteemed professor like a pack of crazed dogs calling not only for his termination at CNN but also cessation at his day job at Temple University where he is a professor of media studies and urban education in the Klein College of Media and Communication. Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and  Zionist Organization of America condemned the 39-year-old activist, author, entrepreneur and professor. 

“Mark Lamont Hill is a dangerous Farrakhan-loving, Israel-hating, racist propagandist who calls for Israel’s destruction to be supplanted by a Hamas-Iran terror state,” Zionist Organization of America national president Mort Klein told JNS,” reported   

“From the river to the sea” is often used by supporters of Palestinian causes to refer to the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the location of Israel and areas it occupies. Critics call the phrase coded language used by so-called terror groups as a call for the dismantling of the State of Israel. Supporters of Dr. Hill included Jews and non-Jews, and many stated his words were misconstrued as anti-Semitic.

Students and supporters gathered Dec. 6 on the campus of Temple University to show solidarity with embattled professor and activist Marc Lamont Hill who has come under intense criticism for remarks calling for equity and justice for Palestinians.

Student organizers in their statement of support for Dr. Hill said, “In the wake of increasingly frequent attacks on radical professors and activists, especially those who speak on Palestine, Temple Students for Justice in Palestine and allied organizations are mobilizing in support of Dr. Marc Lamont Hill and calling on the Temple University Board of Trustees to rescind and cease their libelous statements.”

A student named Eric from the party of Socialism and Liberation speaking in support of Dr. Hill at Dec. 6 rally.
“Why should we allow Temple University to threaten one of the greatest scholars the university has ever had, while the administration is free to continue to gentrify North Philadelphia, exploit the University’s underpaid adjunct professors, and toy with the idea of building a $130 million football stadium in a residential area? Enough is enough,” the statement read in part.

Patrick O’Connor, chair of Temple University’s board of trustees, was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling Dr. Hill’s views “disgusting” and “hate speech,” claiming that he blackened Temple University, adding that “no one at Temple is happy with [Hill’s] comments.” He tasked Temple administrators to look into ways to discipline and perhaps even fire Dr. Hill.

The enthusiastic crowd which numbered nearly 100 and included Dr. Hill chanted and marched through the Temple campus chanting in the cold autumn air “Dr. Hill you spoke the truth Temple won’t silence you,” and “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.”

The march ended at Broad and Cecil B. Moore Ave. Rose Daraza former Temple student from Philadelphia and march participant had this to say about the relevance of the rally: “This march is important because what Dr. Hill said was true. A person should not be worried about their job for speaking the truth.” Dr. Hill did not speak and was not available for interviews.

Organizations and speakers who participated represented a wide variety of groups including: Temple Students For Justice in Palestine, Workers World Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Philly BDS, Stadium Stompers, Black Alliance for Peace,
Jewish Voices For Peace–Philadelphia, Mobilization for Mumia, Philly Don’t Orchestrate Apartheid, Food Not Bombs Solidarity, International Action Center, Philly Socialist Action, Juntos, Indigenous 215, Black and Brown Workers Cooperative and the Temple University Black Student Union.

Meanwhile as student support for Dr. Hill continues to grow on the Temple campus, 34 professors have come out in his favor. In an Academic Freedom letter published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the professors wrote, “We are faculty at Temple University writing in support of Marc Lamont Hill’s academic freedom to express his views on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We thought his arguments were passionate, considered, and thoughtful, and respected the humanity of Palestinians and Israelis. Regardless if we agree or disagree with him, we support his freedom to espouse his views.”

“Temple University’s contract with professors states that: ‘When [a professor] speaks or writes as a citizen, he/she should be free from institutional censorship or discipline; but ... he/she should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that he/she is not speaking for the institution,’” the statement continued.

Students and supporters show their support for Marc Lamont Hill.

“Professor Hill’s speech at the United Nations meets this standard. We must note the irony that for all the outrage his speech elicited from some members of the Temple community, neither he nor the committee chair who introduced him ever mentioned Hill’s affiliation with Temple University. Hill was not presenting his views as representing those of Temple University nor would anyone construe them as such,” the statement from the professors added.

Political activist and former Temple University professor, Dr. Anthony Montario participated in the rally. He told The Final Call that Dr. Hill’s problem is more profound than a label of anti-Semitism. “It’s really about resistance to independent Black thought,” said Dr. Montario.

“I think the university has decided that only certain speech and political views are acceptable. They are committed to removing from the faculty and the university all ideas that do not fit with the establishment views of the American empire. We are going to fight for Marc, and hopefully, we will be successful.” (Final Call staff contributed to this report.)