Temple University’s Board of Trustees condemned professor Marc Lamont Hill’s comments echoing those often used by anti-Israel terrorist groups, but they will not punish him, citing free speech protection Tuesday.
“In giving this speech outside of his role as a teacher and researcher at Temple, Professor Hill was not speaking on behalf of or representing the University,” the board said in a statement.
“We recognize that Professor Hill’s comments are his own, that his speech as a private individual is entitled to the same Constitutional protection of any other citizen, and that he has through subsequent statements expressly rejected anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence,” it said.
Hill’s speech referenced “from the river to the sea,” a phrase used by Hamas to mean the violent dismantling of Israel.
“We must promote nonviolence at every opportunity but cannot endorse narrow politics that shames Palestinians for resisting, for refusing to do nothing in ethnic cleansing,” Hill said. “Justice requires a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”
Temple’s board chairman, Patrick O’Connor, wanted an investigation against Hill, according to a Dec. 3 letter from First Amendment rights group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
“People wanted to fire him right away,” O’Connor said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re going to look at what remedies we have.”
CNN fired Hill as a contributor on Nov. 29.
Despite his harsh words against Israel, Hill said he was not anti-Semitic in a tweet.
I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice.
I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) November 29, 2018
FIRE said in the letter that Temple could not initiate an investigation or fire Hill for his comments because public universities have obligations to follow First Amendment rights.
“Public universities are government actors under the First Amendment, which limits what consequences the institution may impose on students and faculty members for their speech,” Adam Steinbaugh, director of the group’s Individual Rights Defense Program, said in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The university is developing a crisis communication system to handle public controversies better, The Temple News reported.
Hill did not immediately respond to The DCNF’s request for comment.
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