Axed CNN pundit supported basic Palestinian rights. What's so radical about that?

Axed CNN pundit supported basic Palestinian rights. What's so radical about that?
Comment: CNN's decision to axe contributions from pundit Marc Lamont Hill over his comments at the UN puts the channel on the wrong side of history, writes Muhammad Shehada.
4 min read
30 Nov, 2018
Marc Lamont Hill was a regular commentator on CNN [FilmMagic]
As the world marked the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People this week, the American academic author and activist, Professor Marc Lamont Hill spoke at the United Nations to defend the rights of the Palestinian people.

Professor Hill spoke passionately about the parallels that can be drawn between Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality, and the historic struggle in the United States against Jim Crow era apartheid laws in the past century.

He bravely called for political support for the occupied Palestinian people against their oppressors, until the systematic miseries of oppression and discrimination visited upon the caged population over the 70 years plus, are over.

But by courageously demanding that Palestinians be made free and equal to all of humankind, Professor Hill apparently broke some taboos of the nominally "neutral" mainstream, with immediate consequence. America's Cable News Network (CNN), on which Professor Hill was a recurring political contributor, severed all ties with him, over his "controversial comments". 

Hill was then subjected to the usual - and entirely misplaced - chorus of accusations of anti-Semitism, as someone who "called for Israel's destruction,". He responded by saying, "I believe in full rights for all citizens. I believe in safety for all citizens. I believe in self-determination for all citizens. This is not an anti-Semitic position."

There's no morally-sound person who could dispute or deny that Palestinians are experiencing one of the most horrendous systematic and state-sanctioned discrimination, oppression and denial of citizenship in today's world.

There is nothing controversial or hateful about Hill's remarks. His eloquent and sincere speech merely mirrored reality as it is

And furthermore, the chances for emancipation through political settlement have been dismantled brick by brick in recent years, and the horizon for a two-state solution has never looked more bleak.

With this in mind, Hill's bravery at the UN should be the rule not the exception; apartheid is the most accurate description of Israel's rule in the oPt and demanding that Palestinians should be freed from it and be made equal to all people is not radical at all.

This position articulates the most basic, intuitive and moral notion that all humans should embrace equal rights for Palestinian people.

There is nothing controversial or hateful about Hill's remarks. His eloquent and sincere speech merely mirrored reality as it is. He stated the most obvious conclusions that are widespread among any politicians and intellectuals who have had even the slightest understanding of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories.

However, voices that acknowledge or denounce the "apartheid" reality in the oPt have a history of being suppressed in the mainstream, in what amounts to a betrayal of the most fundamental moral principles of humanity.

This betrayal stems from the shameful "cupidity and corruption, careerism and cynicism, cravenness and cowardice of mortal man,"
as concluded in Professor Norman Finkelstein's recent magnum opus on Gaza's martyrdom.

I encountered this blunt betrayal of the Palestinian people in a recent meeting with Senior EU Officials.

In a 10-hour long roundtable discussion, not a single European official around the table disputed the fact that Israel has become an "apartheid state".

To the contrary, people around the table - knowing that the discussion would remain confined to only the people who were present in the room - competed to take credit in acknowledging the obvious apartheid regime in the oPt.

Hill's bravery at the UN should be the rule, not the exception

Nonetheless, most officials around the table were very honest that if they were to ever use this word in public, they'll either lose their positions, or will be pushed down in the career ladder. 

Today, most politicians, leaders, and intellectuals around the world don't dispute that Israel has become an apartheid state, the problem remains with who is going to have the desperately-needed bravery to say it, denounce it and demand equal rights for the Palestinian people.

Those who stand up, like Professor Hill, to defend the Palestinian people and take the right side of history, knowing the likely consequences of their actions, should be generously rewarded and genuinely supported, not disincentivised, shamed and bullied.

Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights.

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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab.