Marc Lamont Hill’s anti-Israel remarks have not only cost him his job at CNN, but they have also caused Temple University “immeasurable” damage.
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania school where Hill is a tenured professor of media studies and urban education has been one of the victims of the fallout following Hill’s speech at the United Nations last month, as donors have pulled back in the face of the controversy.
Hill was fired from CNN earlier this month for the speech that was rife with antisemitic rhetoric, including an apparent endorsement of violent resistance by Palestinians against Israel, calling for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
The phrase, often used by groups advocating the end of the Jewish state, such as Hamas, brought on a firestorm of backlash on Hill and the university which is now feeling the economic ramifications of his words.
“Alums, professors, students, friends of Israel, politicians, young, old, black, white” have unloaded on the school in emails, Patrick O’Connor, the chairman of the Temple University Board of Trustees, told the school’s student publication The Temple News.
“I’ll let you know at the end of the day [what the damage is] when people who used to give us significant amounts of money follow up on their promise never to give another dime,” O’Connor said.
Temple University opted to keep Hill on staff but issued a statement citing his free speech rights.
“Professor Hill’s remarks have been broadly criticized as, among other things, ‘virulent anti-Semitism’ and ‘hate speech,’ and have ignited a public furor,” the university said.
“In giving this speech outside of his role as a teacher and researcher at Temple, Professor Hill was not speaking on behalf of or representing the university,” the statement continued. “We recognize that Professor Hill’s comments are his own, that his speech as a private individual is entitled to the same constitutional protection of any other citizen, and that he has through subsequent statements expressly rejected anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence.”
Multiple donors to the university reportedly communicated that they would not be following through on donations following Hill’s remarks, according to O’Connor who told The Temple News that some of the trustees “wanted [Hill] fired.”
“It’s not the trustees’ domain to do discipline,” he added.
“The members of the Board of Trustees of Temple University … hereby state their disappointment, displeasure, and disagreement with Professor Hill’s comments,” a statement read. “Notwithstanding this controversy, as a public university, Temple continues to support a learning and work environment that is open to a wide diversity of thought, opinion and dialogue by people of all backgrounds.”
Some of Temple University’s Trustees, however, did not think the statement was not strong enough, and others still “wanted him fired,” according to O’Connor.
Hill issued a statement of his own in an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer on December 1 saying he believed “we must reject anti-Semitism in any form or fashion.”
“Throughout my career, I have done my best to identify and uproot anti-Semitism in every political and social movement of which I have been part. One simply cannot be committed to social justice and not be committed to battling anti-Semitism,” he wrote.
For many, however, Hill’s statement seemed inauthentic.
Harvard Law school professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz called Hill the “poster child for increasing anti-Semitism among college and university students and violence against Jewish students,” during an interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”
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