PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Temple University professor and CNN pundit is defending himself following perceived controversial comments he made during a speech at the United Nations on Wednesday for a free Palestine. During his speech, Marc Lamont Hill used the phrase “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” which is a phrase used by anti-Israel terror groups, according to The Hill.
“We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grass-roots 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.
The Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Young Israel condemned Hill’s remarks. The National Council of Young Israel also called for Temple University and CNN to fire Hill over his “highly offensive and virulent anti-Semitism remarks.”
“They’re abhorrent, & his senseless promotion of violence against Israel is repugnant. He can’t be given a platform to serve as a pundit or professor!” the council tweeted.
Sharon Nazarian, the ADL’s senior vice president for international affairs, told the Jewish Journal that “those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel.”
“It is a shame that once again, this annual event at the United Nations does not promote constructive pathways to ‘Palestinian solidarity’ and a future of peace, but instead divisive and destructive action against Israel,” Nazarian said to the Jewish Journal.
Variety reports that CNN has severed ties with Hill following his remarks.
“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” the network told Variety in a statement.
Hill defended his remarks, saying that “it’s absurd on its face” that he would call for the destruction of Israel.
“It’s baffling how people are not responding to the critique, but instead responding to things I didn’t actually say,” Hill tweeted.
Hill said that his “free Palestine from the river to the sea” remark meant that all areas of historic Palestine “must be spaces of freedom, safety, and peace for Palestinians.”
“Anyone who studies the region, or the history of Palestinian nationalism, knows that ‘river to sea’ has been, and continues to be, a phrase used by many factions, ideologies, movements, and politicians,” Hill tweeted. “The phrase dates back to at least the middle of the British mandate and has never been the exclusive province of a particular ideological camp. The idea that this is a Hamas phrase is simply untrue.”