Al Jazeera host, CUNY professor accuses Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’ during pro-Palestinian protest

City University of New York (CUNY) professor and Al Jazeera host Marc Lamont Hill told a crowd of pro-Palestinian supporters that “history didn’t start on Oct. 7” on the heels of comments he made suggesting Hamas is “not a terror group.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt blasted Hill’s “dangerous” rhetoric. 

“Marc Lamont Hill’s comments attempting to justify Hamas’s brutal and barbaric terror attack on innocent Israeli civilians are despicable. Let’s be clear: Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization hell-bent on killing Jews. Any attempt to justify their actions is dangerous, lacks moral clarity, and raises serious questions about whether this individual belongs in academia,” Greenblatt told Fox News Digital. 

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When reached for comment, Hill said Greenblatt “has grossly misrepresented” his comments.

“As he knows, I have consistently and unequivocally denounced the October 7 Hamas attack. As we mourn and criticize this indefensible attack on Israeli civilians, we must also work to dismantle the policies and conditions that shaped the present crisis. We must also not allow legitimate pain and anger to fuel a disproportionate and unlawful retaliation against the Palestinian people. This is not a justification of Hamas. It is a call for peace and justice,” Hill told Fox News Digital. 

During a pro-Palestinian protest at Philadelphia City Hall last weekend that was captured on video, Hill trashed the state of Israel in a speech before a crowd of protesters, claiming that country’s government has been oppressing Palestinians for more than a century, which has led to the current conflict between Israel and the terror group Hamas.

“The truth is that history didn’t start on Oct. 7th,” Hill said, while standing on a platform in the city’s street and addressing a crowd of protesters. 

“As much as the news media wants you to think that history started on Oct. 7, the Palestinian people have been catching hell for over 100 years,” the professor declared amid cheers and the banging of drums by the onlookers.

He then described Israel’s treatment towards the Palestinians as colonialism and “ethnic cleansing.” He said, “For a hundred years, there’s been a settler-colonial project! For 75 years there’s been ethnic cleansing! We gotta tell the truth about that!”

Further, Hill called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack in which the terror group killed around 1,400 people in the Jewish state. 

“Tonight, we demand a cease-fire,” he proclaimed as the crowd applauded. 

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“Tonight we demand that no more Palestinian children are killed! Tonight we demand that no more hospitals are crumbled! Tonight we demand that no more schools are broken down!”

The professor then described the gravity Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians have been in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attack. He screamed into the mic, “It is a violation of international law! It’s a violation of human decency!”

He also addressed college students in the crowd, sympathizing with them for getting “smeared” and “doxxed” for speaking out against the state of Israel in public.

Israeli government X account, “Israel War Room,” shared the clip of Hill’s speech to social media on Thursday, and debunked his list of grievances in a caption on the post. 

It stated, “At a protest in Philly this week, @CUNY professor @marclamonthill defended Hamas, saying ‘history didn’t start on October 7’ and demanding a ceasefire (i.e., Hamas’s continued existence). He also claimed the Palestinian people have been ‘catching hell for over 100 years’ (even though the modern state of Israel hasn’t been around that long), and says there’s no democracy in the US if students can’t support Hamas without getting called out for it.”

The account mentioned the professor’s recent appearance at a pro-Palestinian literature festival at the University of Pennsylvania, adding, “Lamont Hill was one of the many antisemitic @palestinewrites speakers that @Penn students expressed concerns about.”

Hill responded to Israel’s post on social media.

“Yes. I called for a ceasefire. That’s not an endorsement of Hamas. It’s a call for peace. And no, history really didn’t begin on October 7. We must actually study the full past to properly understand (and avoid repeating) what led to that awful event, and the resulting crisis,” he wrote on his X, formerly Twitter, account. 

Hill has made headlines for his pro-Palestinian and pro-Hamas claims in recent weeks. During an episode of Briahna Joy Gray’s “Bad Faith” podcast last week, the professor denied that Hamas is a terrorist organization, claiming that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the media comparing the group to ISIS is a ploy to demonize it. 

He said, “And it’s part of a broader project, I think, of framing Hamas not as a government organization – even if you think that what happened on October 7 was an act of terrorism – by framing them as a terrorist organization rather than a government, rather than a democratically-elected government and/or political party, it makes it easy to avoid political and diplomatic solutions.”

StopAntisemitism Executive Director Liora Rez condemned Hill’s rhetoric. 

“Marc Lamont Hill has already lost one job because of his antisemitism; it’s time for him to lose another. Those who attempt to justify Hamas’s terrorism have no place in academia, as they cannot be trusted with either the safety of their Jewish students or their mandate to teach the truth,” Rez told Fox News Digital. 

A CUNY spokesperson told Fox News Digital on Friday, “The Graduate Center and the University have made it clear that we have zero tolerance for antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any form of bigotry. Faculty opinions are their own and do not represent the views of the institution.”

Hill was fired from CNN in 2018 after he called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” an expression widely seen as a declaration for the elimination of Israel, during a speech at the United Nations.

Back in 2018 when Hill initially faced backlash, Hill wrote, “In my speech, I talked about the need to return to the pre-1967 borders, to give full rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to allow right of return. No part of this is a call to destroy Israel. It’s absurd on its face.” 

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