Opinion | Temple Is Actually Protecting Professor Hill
By Steve Feldman
He has falsely accused the Jewish state of poisoning the Palestinian-Arab water supply, practicing “apartheid” and training New York City police to kill black Americans — rhetoric that is bound to sow resentment against Jews and potentially incite violence.
He wants the Jewish state of Israel eliminated and replaced by an Arab state of Palestine, and believes that Arab violence against Israelis — meaning Jews — is the most efficient way toward that end.
These are just some of Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill’s assertions about Israel.
What are students to think when a professor advocates violence? What impact does it have when the professor makes the most vile accusations imaginable about the homeland of a minority group on campus? What does it convey when the professor champions the cause of a murderer or a terrorist?
These are not hypothetical questions.
“When we struggle together we too often adopt a civil rights tradition which romanticizes nonviolence — that’s the challenge. … And how can you romanticize nonviolence when you have a state that is at all moments waging war against you; against your bodies; poisoning your water, limiting your access to water; locking up your children, killing — we can’t romanticize resistance,” Hill said at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights annual conference on Sept. 28.
Hill added: “But if that’s [nonviolence] the only resistance that we accept in a post-Oslo moment, then again we’re constraining and domesticating the resistance. … We’ve allowed this nonviolent thing to become so normative that we’re undermining our own ability to resist in real robust ways.”
Hill is the Steve Charles Professor of Media, Cities, and Solutions at Temple — teaching in the Lew Klein School of Media and Communication. He was lured to Temple in 2017 despite a long record of accusing the nation-state of the Jewish people of a variety of fabricated human rights violations against Israeli Arabs and Palestinian-Arabs.
Temple officials led by Dean David Boardman either knew of Hill’s anti-Israel background, historical revisionism and lies about contemporary Israel and did not care, or Temple officials did not care to know about them.
Before arriving at Temple, Hill said it was unfair that Hamas rockets would not reach their Jewish targets due to Israel’s Iron Dome. This is one of many of Hill’s views that should have disqualified Hill from a position at any decent, credible institution of higher learning.
It was only after Hill’s Nov. 28 speech at the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People made a big splash that Temple officials reacted. Hill declared his support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, ridiculed Palestinian-Arab nonviolent “resistance” in their war against Israel, and called for “a free ‘Palestine’ from the river to the sea” — echoing a chant used by terrorist groups and their supporters about eliminating Israel.
It was solely Hill’s “from the river to the sea” that was the focus of Temple trustees’ statement. They ignored the rest of Hill’s despicable 21-minute speech and the totality of Hill’s attacks and lies against the Jewish state. The trustees merely expressed their “displeasure, disappointment and disagreement.” In essence, they praised him with faint damnation.
In fact, no matter how much has come out about the man Temple touted as a star when he was hired, apparently there were no ultimatums by Temple trustees that Hill be fired — despite public bravado by some trustees (and public silence from others). None of the trustees resigned when he was not terminated.
Were there to be a Palestine extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea in place of Israel, that Palestine would be led either by genocidal Hamas or a Palestinian Authority that has declared no Jews would be permitted to live in Palestine.
Rather than condemn Hill’s goal, Temple only acknowledged that it is “widely perceived as language that threatens the existence of the state of Israel.” Rather than call Hill an anti-Semite and his words hate-speech, Temple’s statement notes only that his remarks “have been broadly criticized” in those terms.
By limiting their criticism to six words at the United Nations, Temple is protecting Hill. The trustees claim he was not “representing the university,” though today Hill is inextricably linked to the school. They claim Hill’s calls for violence and his inciting rhetoric have First Amendment protection. They claim Hill has “rejected anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence” — though just a few days after the statement, Hill was on the radio in New York in a nationally syndicated show accusing the Jewish state of apartheid, and of training New York City police officers to murder African-Americans.
It is a fallacy that being anti-Israel and anti-Zionist is different than being anti-Jewish. Zionism is the self-determination movement of the Jewish people. Claiming one is anti-Israel or anti-Zionist but not anti-Jewish is a clever tactic.
Hill is an anti-Semite — despite his claims to the contrary. He incites hatred and is creating a hostile environment on campus for Jewish students. Given the dramatic increase in attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions and Hill’s support for murderer Rasmea Odeh and airplane hijacker Leila Khalid, Hill is unfit to have the mantle of professor — for what lessons is he really imparting?
Temple must do the right thing and fire Hill and whoever is responsible for bringing him to campus, making him a professor and giving him tenure. Every day that Hill remains employed by Temple is another day that Hill erodes the university’s academic and moral standards.
Steve Feldman is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Greater Philadelphia chapter.