Marc Lamont Hill pens letter to Temple University community

“While I stand behind my political beliefs, I have learned that my use of language produced interpretations, feelings, and responses that I did not intend. For that, I am deeply sorry.”

To the Temple University Community:

I am writing this letter to directly address the controversy that emerged in the aftermath of my speech at the United Nations last week. As President Englert has indicated, the speech has sparked strong responses, particularly from my sisters and brothers within the Jewish community. For that reason I would like to address this issue directly. 

Let me begin by saying that I unequivocally reject anti-Semitism in any form or fashion. As I have articulated in previous writing and speeches, I am keenly aware of the threats faced by Jewish people around the world. Threats of physical violence against Jews are animated and compounded by ugly anti-Semitic images, stereotypes, conspiracy theories, and mythologies. These realities are not only historically persistent, but intensifying in numerous places around world. As an activist and scholar, I have done my best to point out these realities and challenge them whenever possible. Simply put, there is no space for anti-Semitism in the world. 

At the conclusion of my speech, I used a phrase (“Free Palestine, from the River to the Sea”) that some have interpreted as anti-Semitic. Specifically, they believe that the phrase signified a call to physically destroy the state of Israel, or otherwise do harm to Jewish people. To be clear, this was not my intention at all. Indeed, I was genuinely saddened that my comments produced such an interpretation. 

Throughout my speech, I spoke explicitly about the need for Israeli political reform, specifically as it pertains to Arab citizens of Israel. I also called for a redrawing of borders to the pre-1967 lines, as well as a greater attention to human rights for those living in the West Bank and Gaza. I believed that these demands sufficiently reflected my belief in radical political reform within Israel, not a desire for its destruction. Clearly, they did not. 

While I stand behind my political beliefs, I have learned that my use of language produced interpretations, feelings, and responses that I did not intend. For that, I am deeply sorry.  Everyone deserves to live with peace, safety, and security. My vision of justice for Palestinians absolutely does not come at the expense of justice for Jews anywhere in the world. To anyone who felt that my comments suggested otherwise, I apologize. 

I would also like to acknowledge the Temple University faculty and staff whose professional and personal lives have been interrupted by these recent events. I can only imagine how challenging the past few days have been. I apologize. 

In the coming weeks and months, I hope to engage in healthy public and private dialogues with board members, administrators, faculty, students, and community groups. We will likely disagree on key issues. Such disagreement is central to healthy and functional democratic spaces. But I can promise that any dialogue in which I engage will begin from a place of respect, trust, and a fundamental belief in safety, security, and self-determination for everyone.

Marc Lamont Hill is an urban studies and media studies and production professor at Temple University. He can be reached at marclamonthill@temple.edu.

16 Comments

  1. As a Temple graduate student and TA and proud person of Jewish faith, I commend Marc for his letter, but really, he should not have had to apologize. I am deeply saddened by the way some of the mainstream Jewish organizations have attacked him for his human rights activism in Israel. I am far more upset by the way members of the Temple Board would deny his right to free speech.
    From the river to the sea, Palestinians living in occupation must be free.

    • This man is a bigget, an antisemite. His calling for the murder of all Jews in Israel, is dispicable. He’s no difffernt than Hitler. I don’t know what “Jewish faith” Baen Safran belongs to, but no self-respecting Jew would get into bid with this dispicalbe lier. Fire the bumb.

    • Ben, you are not a Jew.You are a JINO (Jew in name only). To assert that the “so-called” Palestinians have their land “occupied” by Israel is a bald faced lie. The “Palestinians” have never had a nation; they are Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians, etc. They have no common history, no common language, no common monetary system. Not until the Israelis won back the land stolen by Jordan did they claim to be a people.

      When in the history of the world has a country which acquired land in a defensive war been asked to return that land, not to the country from which it was taken, but to a non-descript group with no legitimate claim to it?

      I too am a graduate of Temple and I learned to see reality, not to bury my head in the sand and follow some radical ideology.In your case to abandon your people.

    • Ben, thank you for your reply. As an alum it is sad to see the length people will go to silence opinions they disagree with. I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the juxtaposition of Temple keeping Moshe Porat on the payroll despite his commission of fraud (in order to make $$$ for the school) with its consideration of terminating MLH in this matter. Disgusting. That you have been accused of being a “fake” Jew is pathetic in equal measure. Shame on those fascists who seem to have forgotten some important lessons of history.

  2. If you’re such an astute commentator on Israel, you damn well knew what “From the river to the sea” meant. It is commonly used among the BDS movement and the left. If you’re so far removed from current events that you didn’t know it, then you shouldn’t be commentating until you become educated on the topics on which you speak.

  3. Temple University is a joke. Having an Antisemite as a Professor is not cool. professors teach students. So to say a professor can have his own personal opinions separate from what he teaches is stupid. What does he teach? “Media Studies” Not sure what that is but it seems like course material where someone who teaches hatred might not be the best choice.

    I am a Lehigh Graduate so I never thought much of Temple U anyway other than they can play basketball. Not sure what they are like today but they seem to be “Very Urban”. So perhaps a hater fits in real well at Temple. They can strive to be a center of excellence for hatred.

    They can offer, if they do not do so already, a program in how to lie. This guy is a treasure. The marketing potential is enormous. Good work Temple.

    • Hill. Your response assumes people are as dumb as you are. I am shocked that temple would keep an apparent bigot like you around.

  4. Marc Lamont Hill’s apology is a fraud. He failed to mention in his apology that in his UN speech he called for a violent uprising of the Palestinians. That’s far from wanting Jews all over the world to live in peace.

    However, I do agree that he has every right to say these disgraceful things. I only wish leftists like him would remember that the next time they try to shut down conservative speakers on campus. Just run to your safe spaces and let them be heard. Or better yet, challenge them in the marketplace of ideas.

  5. Well you’re a fine representative of Lehigh U. I didn’t know much about the place until you shared the thoughts of such a shallow mind. Now we all know what a sham of an institution Lehigh is. You’re obviously their best and brightest.

  6. israel has been re-born/liberated or it’s been colonized/occupied – you can’t have it both ways.
    in times of war one must decide which side your on. lamont-hill is playin games.

  7. You wont find a lot of disagreement just some alternate outcomes.The Palestinian leadership doesn’t speak for most of the west bank there are so many factions independent of each other with different demands. Will the PA be able to deliver a pease plan.Or will Israel just be expected to take continued attacks, that surly wouldn’t be condemned by the UN and find Israel at fault.
    What would be accepted by the Palestinians. They call it negotiating, but what are they willing to negotiate not right of return, 1967 lines as borders, or the temple mount. ISRAEL HAS MADE AT LEAST 4 PEASE OFFERS, the PA not one, they cant offer what they cant deliver. Who says that this treaty would be honored, if you truly follow Islam and the Koran then they follow Mohamed who murdered an intire population that HE had a treaty with for 10 years he attacked an unexpecting population after only 8 years.Israel cant except UN protection when it is UN crap that perpetuates the conflict. The world promised to protect Israel so Israel left Gaza literally forced settlements to close and dragged settlers off. For a sign of good faith Israel retreated from Gaza. At first the Palestinians worked in Israel then came Hamas. Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and death to the Jews, Israel closed the border. Hundreds of missiles shot indiscriminately at Israel world response blame Israel.What happened to defending Israel instead they were attacked politically by the one sided UN because of international politics nothing to do with the conflict. Just ask yourself would you truly trust the UN to protect anything, except how they are perceived. Remember Israel can win 1,000 wars but can only loose one. Since when does the looser of a war get to dictate the terms of pease.

  8. As a graduate of the School of Media and Communication, it is shocking to read how intensely committed people in and out of the Temple community are to silencing opinions they disagree with and destroying the character of an scholar and community leader. MLH’s work in Philly on behalf of the under-served is beyond reproach. Yet the hyperbole, the distortion, the faux indignation used to attack him, even after his apology, is pathetic. It is to the point that even those of the Jewish faith who might disagree with MLH but respect his right to speak his mind without penalty are labelled “fake Jews.” Temple as an institution that encourages vigorous debate and academic freedom must truly consider whether it remains aligned with that goal. For it to endure the recent scandal and embarrassment at the Fox School yet retain its chief architect of such fraud, Moshe Porat, while considering the termination of Marc Lamont Hill for exercising his right to free speech OFF CAMPUS as a private citizen, speaks volume about its core values.

  9. Jay Frank, Mark Lamont Hill’s work in Philadelphia is irrelevant to this discussion. What is relevant is that Dr. Hill claims expertise on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, uses “from the river to the sea” which has well-known connotations, and then claims ignorance as to its meaning and “apologizes” when he got called out. Yes, he has free speech, but for this associate of Farrakhan to claim afterwards that he didn’t mean what he said, that he didn’t know about its meaning, boggles the mind.

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