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CNN commentator fired after giving pro-Palestinian speech at UN

Political commentator Marc Lamont Hill is quickly fired after promoting 'free Palestine from the river to the sea'
The CNN political commentator expresses support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement (Wayne Riley/Wikicommons)

CNN fired commentator Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday after he called for justice for Palestinians in a UN speech.

“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” a CNN spokesperson told Mediaite. CNN staffers later confirmed the sacking on Twitter.

CNN did not give a reason for his firing, nor did the outlet explicitly confirm his exit as a result of what he said at the UN.

“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea,” Hill said at the UN.

Groups such as the anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Young Israel condemned his remarks, saying they amount to anti-Semitism, particularly his “river to the sea” allusion, which they claim is a line used by Hamas to support the destruction of the Israeli state.

Hill disagreed with that characterisation on Twitter, saying he merely “supports Palestinian freedom”.

“My reference to river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone,” he added.

Hill, who is a professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University in Philadelphia, also expressed support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in his speech. The movement was inspired by an international campaign against South Africa before the fall of apartheid.

Israel, several US states, politicians and lobby groups have pushed back against the movement.

US college campuses, where activists attempt to pass student council resolutions to boycott Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians, have become a major arena for debate over the conflict.

In March 2017, Israel's parliament passed a law banning the entry of supporters of the BDS movement. 

Last year, lawmakers proposed a bill that would legally restrict US citizens and companies from boycotting Israel. The measure failed to progress after an outcry from free speech watchdogs, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

In January, a federal judge blocked a Kansas law that required state contractors to certify that they do not boycott Israel.