Letter to Temple: Investigation of Marc Lamont Hill Violates First Amendment

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Attacks on Hill Are Part of a Campaign to Silence Criticism of Israel

New York — Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) wrote Temple University yesterday informing the college that threatening to investigate Professor Marc Lamont Hill for a speech at the United Nations violates the First Amendment.

In his speech, Hill described the ways in which Israel denies equality to Palestinians and spoke of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Grounding his solidarity with Palestinians in his experiences as a Black American, Hill ended his speech calling for “a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

The speech advocated for freedom of all people in the region and in no way targeted any protected group, including Jews or Israelis.

On November 30, it was reported that Temple’s legal department was asked to investigate options for disciplining Hill, who was fired from CNN earlier that week after anti-Palestinian groups complained.

Palestine Legal and CCR’s letter points out that the use of the phrase “from the river to the sea” does not become anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli simply because some strongly identify with Israel as a state that privileges Jewish citizens, as opposed to a state with equal rights for all its inhabitants.

"Temple can’t investigate Professor Hill because some people disagree with his view that Palestinians should be treated equally," said Radhika Sainath, Senior Staff Attorney for Palestine Legal. "Hill has a First Amendment right to challenge Israeli apartheid - period.”

“Although Temple has acknowledged that the Constitution protects Professor Hill’s right to expression, it must explicitly rebuke backwards demands to punish him for calling for Palestinian freedom and equality,” said Maria LaHood, deputy legal director at CCR.  “What good is a university that chills one side of a debate on an issue of public concern?”

Letters and Statements

Defending Rights and Dissent

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (1)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (2)

Palestinian Youth Movement

Temple Association of University Professionals  

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Petitions and Action Alerts

The Action Network

Jewish Voice for Peace

Media

Free Speech Is a Core Tenet of the Academy. College Trustees Really Ought to Know That., Keith E. Whittington, The Chronicle of Higher Education (December 5, 2018)

Marc Lamont Hill and the legacy of punishing black internationalists, Noura Erakat, Washington Post (December 5, 2018)

Temple professors: No confidence in university leader who won’t support Marc Lamont Hill’s academic freedom, Josh Klugman, Philly.com (December 5, 2018)

Exposing the Israel Lobby Groups Behind the “Political Lynching” of Marc Lamont Hill, Whitney Webb, MintPress News (December 4, 2018)

‘From The River To The Sea’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means, Maha Nassar, The Forward (December 3, 2018)

Why did CNN fire a pro-Palestinian commentator?, Cornel West, The Guardian (December 4, 2018)

The Harsh and Unjust Punishment of Marc Lamont Hill, David Palumbi-Liu, The Nation (December 4, 2018)