Marc Lamont Hill does not deserve forgiveness

CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill does not deserve forgiveness. His true colors were evident as he issued a disingenuous “apology” for advocating the destruction of Israel as he called for a Palestine “from the river to the sea.”

Athough it is not necessarily a positive development that the age of social media has compelled us all to dispense with nuance and become quick to condemn, sometimes applying forgiveness selectively is exactly what is warranted. Should a single misstatement, poorly tuned phrase or a solitary act that is equivocal in its meaning and impact come to define a person’s entire life?

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Not always. But in this case Marc Lamont Hill did indeed mean what he said and a brief utterance provided a window into strongly held beliefs. Instead of showing where he was wrong in his initial statement, his “apology” for his remarks advocating “a free Palestine from the river to the sea” further clarified his unconscionable position. Hill argued that the destruction of Israel was not his agenda – that he was simply advocating a single state solution that he believes will promote justice in the region.

He never expressed concern regarding what such a solution would do to the Jewish residents of even the pre-1967 borders, who also happen to live between the Jordan and Mediterranean. In his “apology” he reiterated all that Israel has done to “oppress” the Palestinians, never assigning any responsibility to the residents of the West Bank or Gaza. It is a one-sided view of the conflict that is profoundly antisemitic because it assigns rights only to those who are not Jewish.

Hill justified his stance by stating that one cannot be “progressive” and turn a blind eye to the plight of the Palestinians. He missed the point that many Jews, and even most Israelis, are profoundly concerned about the Arab residents of mandatory Palestine. They just do not believe that those rights must mean the destruction of Israel.

I do believe Marc Hill is sorry for the pain his remarks have caused. He cited a life of opposition to antisemitism, expressed surprise at the reaction to his remarks, and denied that he harbors ill will toward Jews. However, the first step to repentance is acknowledging one’s errors. Marc Lamont Hill has failed in this regard.

While he has been fired from CNN, he remains a professor at Temple University, where his appointment was reaffirmed after his “apology.” I disagree with the university administration’s decision. His total lack of concern for the rights of all and his supposed shock at the response to calling for a Palestine “from the river to the sea” ought to disqualify him from teaching.

To forgive him is to empower his hate-filled rhetoric to spread in an age when antisemitism is on the rise on college campuses and around the country. Impressionable students deserve to hear objective presentations of all sides of these key issues. To exonerate Hill and allow him to continue presenting the world as he sees it and shaping young minds is irresponsible.

The writer is president of the Touro College and University system, the nation’s largest institution of higher learning under Jewish auspices.

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