Dear President Englert and Temple Board of Trustees,
As accomplished professionals, activists and alumni we stand in solidarity with Professor Marc Lamont Hill. We also take deep offense to the statements of those who are leaders at Temple, specifically Chair Patrick O’Connor, who said that Marc Lamont Hill’s comments “blacken [Temple’s] name unnecessarily” and that the Board of Directors wants to fire Hill right away. Such rhetoric and action without due process is obscenely anti-Black, Islamophobic and racist to the core, a sentiment that Temple University does not come from, but has been steadily moving towards.
Marc Lamont Hill has continually proven his commitment to justice and equal rights for everyone through his scholarship and activism. For years, Dr. Hill has dedicated his life to justice and freedom for all oppressed people and has stood strongly against hatred, violence and racism. Hill is a Philadelphia native, who actively seeks to connect the Temple community to the everyday people of the city. But he goes one step further – he connects the cause for racial justice in America to the struggle of Palestinians facing the loss of their homes overseas. It is for this that he is being punished, not for false allegations of anti-Semitism.
We reject any and all assumptions that Hill’s statement referenced the destruction of any faithbased or ethnic group. These assumptions not only ignore Hill’s call for human rights, but mischaracterize the Palestine movement in order to discredit it.
Advocacy for Palestine does not equivocate to antisemitism, we oppose anti-Semitism and hate speech for the racism it is. We see the distortion of Hill’s call for human rights as an erasure of apartheid and occupation. It also continues a legacy of punishing the solidarity of Black internationalists with Palestine.
Dr. Hill’s comments that ‘Palestine be free from the river to the sea’ is not about calling for hate or genocide, it is symbolic of the hope for freedom for the millions of people who live in abhorrent conditions in Gaza, the West Bank and within Israel. Nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza live by the sea in an open-air prison after a blockade was imposed in 2007. In Israel, 1.6 million Palestinians live as second-class citizens, not enjoying the same rights as Jews. Millions of other Palestinians live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by the Jordan River under Israeli occupation and fear of encroaching settlements that are illegal under international law. Freeing Palestine calls for ceasing the illegal occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, and the apartheid and discrimination of Palestinian citizens within Israel.
As Hill explained in his U.N. speech, a one-state solution does not call for violence against any group of people. Rather, Hill and other proponents of the one-state solution envision a secular and democratic binational state where Muslims, Jews, Christians and any other religious/sectarian groups can live in peace and harmony. As alumni, we also envision a state where nobody faces discrimination because of their ethnicity or religion.
By stating that he is displeased with Hill’s comments and desires his immediate dismissal, Patrick O’Connor is systematically dismissing a large portion of students, faculty, alumni and workers at Temple, who believe in the necessity of a free Palestine so we may all inhabit a more peaceful world. We too are #TempleMade and deserve to have our voices heard.
We question Temple’s commitment to condemn “racist, or incendiary language, hate speech, calls to violence and the disparagement of any person or persons based on religion, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation or identity.” The university never took similar action against non-tenured Professor Francesca Viola for making bigoted remarks against Muslims or tenured Professor Christopher Harper’s anti-Black sentiment.
Similarly, the Temple Board of Directors failed to object to Bill Cosby’s rape of Andrea Constand, a former Temple employee, and retained Cosby on the Board until he was unable to ignore the criminal charges against him. O’Connor represented Cosby in court, defending a serial rapist who reportedly harmed 68 women, and concerned students and faculty have since protested against O’Connor’s name emblazoned on a plaza on campus.
We demand that the university reject anti-intellectualism by taking the following action:
- Require that Patrick O’Connor rescind his claim that Marc’s comments equated to hate speech and that he apologize for anti-Black rhetoric of “blackening Temple’s name”
- Make a pledge to honor Hill’s tenure and academic freedom
Brandon Rey Ramirez
Cristina Romero Muniz
Erin Virginia Heald
Evan J Hoffman
Ka Yi Li
Matthew A. Feldman
Robert Ian Evans