CNN came under fire for terminating commentator Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday after he criticized Israel in a speech delivered at the United Nations.
“Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN,” a network spokesperson said in an email.
While delivering a pro-Palestine address at the U.N. on Wednesday, Hill called for a “free Palestine."
“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 in the speech.
The statement “from the river to the sea” has often been associated with the the militant group Hamas and refers to extending Palestine’s borders from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Some claimed the comment was as advocating for violence against the Jewish state.
“Those calling for ‘from the river to the sea’ are calling for an end to the State of Israel,” Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice president for international affairs, told the Jewish Journal.
Hill, who also works as a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, was not let go by the school. Instead, the institution released a statement saying, “Marc Lamont Hill does not represent Temple University and his views are his own. However, we acknowledge that he has a constitutionally protected right to express his opinion as a private citizen.”
Hill also defended himself on Twitter.
“My reference to ‘river to the sea’ was not a call to destroy anything or anyone. It was a call for justice, both in Israel and in the West Bank/Gaza,” Hill wrote on Thursday.
“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,” he added in another tweet.
Other people have rushed to the defense of Hill and blasted the network for giving racists, white supremacists, and climate change deniers airtime but firing Hill.
Recently, former CNN host Soledad O’Brien even criticized the news station for using white supremacist guests to draw ratings.
“They give a platform ― and their credibility ― to racists/white supremacists/ all in the name of ‘hearing them out,’ (which is a ratings ploy btw),” O’Brien tweeted in response to a writer who said the network was trying to “have their cake and eat it too.”