Why CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill Picked an Especially Wrong Week to Make Anti-Israel Comments

CNN contributor was fired from the network after echoing Hamas talking points during U.N. speech


CNN has been heavily promoting a special weeklong series on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe.

Unfortunately, the PR push came at the exact same time one of its contributors, Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, called for an armed Palestinian “resistance” against Israel and used a known Hamas rallying cry calling for the destruction of the Jewish State during a speech at the United Nations.

On Thursday, CNN fired Hill over the issue.

“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” a spokesperson told TheWrap.

During his remarks, Hill called for a free Palestine, “from the river to the sea,” a line which has been used repeatedly by Hamas leader Khaled Mash’al. The phrase was also used by the Palestinian Liberation Organization beginning with its founding in 1964, when it was still classified as a terror group.

Hill also voiced support for violent Palestinian “resistance,” suggesting that Palestinians could be inspired by “slave revolts and self-defense and tactics otherwise divergent from Dr. King or Mahatma Gandhi.”

“If we are standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, we must recognize the right of an occupied people to defend itself,” Hill said.

The Anti-Defamation League condemned Hill, calling the comments “divisive and destructive against Israel.”

“Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel,” ADL Senior Vice President Sharon Nazarian told the Jewish Journal. “It is a shame that, once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel.”

The imbroglio was conspicuously absent from the network’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter Wednesday — written by Brian Stelter.

Hill spent much of Wednesday and Thursday on Twitter defending himself from critics and insisting the phrase was not exclusive to Hamas.

“The phrase dates back to at least the middle of the British Mandate and has never been the exclusive province of a particular ideological camp,” Hill tweeted. “The idea that this is a Hamas phrase is simply untrue.”

As the Hill outrage gained steam, CNN offered fulsome talking points to reporters on “a major new investigation” on the “startling rise in anti-Semitism across Europe.”

Among the most notable statistics in the press release was that a “third of Europeans say they know either ‘just a little’ or nothing at all about the Holocaust. Around one in 20 Europeans has never heard of the Holocaust.” The state of Israel was established, in part, due to the world’s shock at the revelation of the horrors of the Holocaust.

It’s not the first time Hill has created headlines and headaches for CNN. Last month, Hill’s association with Nation of Islam chief Louis Farrakhan was brought to wide public attention after reporting from TheWrap showed the minister was using Hill in promotional material for a music collection. Farrakhan himself has tweeted approvingly of their friendship.

Farrakhan, who is classified as an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his long history of anti-semitic statements, recently lost his Twitter verification over similar remarks — like this one comparing Jews to termites. Farrakhan’s association with Women’s March leaders like Tamika Mallory have led other movement leaders like Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing to publicly disassociate from the 2019 event.

In 2008, Hill defended Farrakhan during an appearance on “Hannity & Colmes.”

“I do not know if he is an anti-Semite,” Hill said after Hannity confronted him with quotes from Farrakhan, including his description of Judaism as a “gutter religion.” Hill said the line was “out of context.”

CNN also passed on multiple opportunities to comment on the Hill-Farrakhan connection at the time.