Temple needs to do the right thing

The President of the National Council of Young Israel wrote a Letter to the Editor asking the university to sever its ties with Marc Lamont Hill.

As a professor at Temple University, Marc Lamont Hill wields considerable power wearing his academic hat and is very much in a position to indoctrinate and influence students at Temple with his anti-Semitic views.

Hill’s anti-Semitism is not merely manifest in an isolated statement made on Twitter against a backdrop of pro-Jewish statements; rather, it is evident from a litany of anti-Semitic statements culminating with his public remarks at the United Nations, in which he very clearly called for the destruction of Israel with his outrageous “from the river to the sea” statement.

For example, Hill proclaimed an outrageous blood libel at a U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference on September 28, 2018, accusing Israel of poisoning the water of Palestinians.

“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 them,” Hill said. “We can’t romanticize resistance.”

In virtually the same breath, Hill overtly promoted violence against Israel when he told his audience that he would go “Leila Khaled-style,” a frightening allusion to a convicted Palestinian Arab terrorist who played a pivotal role in the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 in 1969 and the attempted hijacking of EL AL Flight 219 in 1970.

The shameless and alarming endorsement of violence and terrorism against Israel by Hill, both in September and more recently at the UN, is unacceptable, unprofessional and uncivilized, and should result in his immediate termination by Temple University.

Hill’s own lame defense of his contemptible comments in response to the public outcry that they engendered includes the false statement that he has been fighting anti-Semitism for many years. How exactly has he been combating anti-Semitism? By fighting his own bigotry and intolerance toward Jews? If so, he has utterly failed in his efforts.

Hill also claimed that he did not call for Israel’s destruction; yet he also remarked that he does not support the existence of a Jewish state of Israel. Perhaps Hill neglected to realize that the international definition of anti-Semitism includes those who oppose the existence of the state of Israel, as well as clearly advocating terrorism against Jews and proclaiming blood libels.  

The defense offered by others of Hill is that he has the right of free speech. Free speech is certainly an important right afforded to us under the U.S. Constitution; however, in a situation where one of its professors is preaching the incitement of violence, Temple has no obligation to keep them in their employ.

For example, what if Hill advocated pedophilia publicly and in the classroom? Would Temple and others proclaim the need to allow him to express these views under the guise of free speech to students at the university? Certainly not. Clearly, free speech has limits, and the question is where those limits lie.  

One clear and obvious line in this particular case is when someone expresses support for the destruction of Israel, advocates terrorist violence against Jews, and engages in a blood libel against Israel. Would there be a consideration to keeping a professor if they endorsed the Islamic State or expressed support for Nazism? Of course not.

A line was clearly crossed by Marc Lamont Hill and frankly it is not an easy line to cross. By taking action in the aftermath of his offensive and dangerous comments and terminating Hill, Temple University would send a strong message that it will not tolerate anti-Semitism being expressed by its professors.  

Temple has a monumental choice to make. It can decide whether it wants a campus that opposes anti-Semitism and the promotion of violence, or one that tolerates, condones and is even complicit in anti-Semitism. CNN quickly made the right decision regarding Hill by severing its ties with him in the wake of his anti-Semitic comments. We sincerely hope that Temple makes the right decision as well.

Farley Weiss is the President of the National Council of Young Israel, a century-old organization that takes a leading role in tackling the important issues facing the Jewish community in North America and Israel.

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