From The River To The Sea: Solidarity with Marc Lamont Hill And Palestine
I am proud of Marc Lamont Hill and his steadfastness regarding his comments to the UN about Israeli violence against Palestinians. He can embrace his termination from CNN and any pressure on his position at Temple University, where he is a tenured professor, with pride. They were earned by his taking a courageous stand with justice in a climate where injustices as plentiful, normal, and even celebrated.
To condemn the words and truth spoken by Marc Lamont Hill is to go back to the days of the Holocaust in Germany and condemn the words of those who spoke against the murder and torture of Jewish people by the government forces that were empowered there. It is to go back to the days of Enslavement in the so-called United States and condemn the words of abolitionists who spoke against the murder and torture of those enslaved by the power holders, or of Internment Camps of Japanese People. It is, even more relevantly, to go back to the days of Genocide of the Indigenous in the so-called United States, or to the days of Apartheid in Azania, so called South Africa, or of Genocide of Armenians by the Turks, and to condemn the words of those who called out injustice.
The current occupation of the land there is wrong. It is because it is wrong, and because to maintain this wrong the State of Israel must fight against efforts to correct this error perpetually, or else commit genocide, that it is violent. The existence of the Israeli State in its current iteration and under the current circumstances, is violent.
We must recognize that there is a distinction between the people of Israel and the state of Israel. A call for the destruction of the current occupation of this land, even an occupation by one of the people with equal claim to it, is not the same as calling for the destruction of any of the people who live there. The global community must acknowledge that there are numerous people who are indigenous to the land known today as Israel. If we truly believe that all land should be under indigenous governance, then we must also know Palestinians are right to demand power. The ties Jewish people have to the land does not erase the ties of Palestinians. The excessive and unilateral power asserted by the Israeli State over any amount of that land is no different than theft, as their claim to ownership was established, and maintained, by colonizing nations. The land was distributed by entities who had no right to do so.
To assert Israel/Palestine belongs solely to the Jewish people, while observing the eradication of another mutually indigenous group is to, as a global community, allow for colonization to occur right in front of our eyes. This is an act of ongoing violence and for as long as it persists, any act of resistance is justified, and it is self-defense against violence. Any act to protect or further secure the illegal unilateral holding of that land is an act of aggression, even when it is enacted against the rightful moves to take power back.
To be clear I will reiterate my position: taking land rights from one group in the name of your own land rights is a form of colonization and it is illegal, especially when this is facilitated and established by individuals who have no legitimate authority in that land except through the act of brutal force and institutionalized violence.
Being against Israel’s illegal existence is not anti-Semitic. It is anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist. It’s an understanding that Israel should never have been imposed on the people of Palestine. Instead of being manipulated and used by Zionist forces, British and otherwise, among the world’s power brokers, the fight of the Jewish people from the beginning until today should have been to overcome the obstacles to living side by side in peace, not taking advantage of the access to power given to them to oppress mutual daughters and sons of Abraham — for political rather than religious reasons no less. Many fail to have compassion for the situation that the Israeli State finds itself in because they understand that this condition is a direct causation of unceasing violence directed at the Palestinians — all simply to squelch their rightful claim to power and equity in their own land and to limit their self-advocacy.
There is always discussion of how complicated the situation is. I am clear that land should be governed by those indigenous to it. I agree with many that this is not debatable. Therefore, it is not complicated. The Palestinians are indigenous to the land, it is their land to govern. If the Jewish community is also indigenous, they should co-govern. They should govern together. Promises by colonizers of old — the Turks or The British, The Rothschilds or the Balfours — are irrelevant because they had no genuine authority to make such promises.
What it means to people with this simple, very clear value in regards to land justice is that the state of Israel exists illegally because it was not established by the collective of indigenous communities. Governance also belongs to the Palestinians, all who currently reside must decide between receiving the governance of a healed Jewish-Arab state or leaving.
The claims of complication are based on the idea that because Israel was promised and created it has a right to exist. It does not have such a right to exist unless that right was agreed upon by both the Jewish and the Palestinian people. The only thing that complicates the situation is the might of military and economic power aligned with Israel that stands in the way of what is right and protects what is illegal.
We cannot continue to allow the needs of a colonizing group to be a primary factor in determining land justice. If proper land justice was consistently applied in previous colonizing efforts, maybe the ancestors of Israel would have directed their approach to that land differently. Maybe they wouldn’t allow a standard of, as described by Hill in his speech, “denial, destruction, displacement, and death” by an empowered government if they had a model in which those who had the right of governance in situations of colonialism had that right properly restored. Maybe, in spite of what the Zionist architects of this situation created, they would have entered as relatives rather than thieves, if they were truly reckoning with the possibility that their generations would one day pay a price.
I do not argue at all that the price is death. I believe the price is loss of wrongly accumulated wealth, resources, power, and privileges. That which was stolen with the land and must be returned with the land.
Whether a person determines to agree with this position or not, the fact of ongoing Israeli violent aggression is real. Within Israel and within the Gaza strip and the West Bank, Palestinians endure the murder of their children, journalists, fishermen, and other civilians. They experience, daily, the destruction of production, the militarization of their daily life, ongoing displacement and demolition of their communities, unwarranted arrest and uncharged imprisonment, checkpoints, torture, language erasure and restrictions against basic human needs such as water and electricity — very similarly to the treatment in most cases of indigenous people that have been settled by colonizers. These acts of violence are being perpetuated against an indigenous people by, and on behalf of, the idea of the state of Israel. The idea is wrong and these acts are wrong. Those who stand in defense of them stand in defense of apartheid. It is like standing with the Afrikaners as they imprisoned Mandela and subjugated the people indigenous to South Africa.
There are many who agree with the end of the Israeli state — not its people. There are enough people globally who are informed, and who believe in and fight for justice who have that perspective — it demands acknowledgment as a valid and even a fundamental part of any discussion of human rights. Demonizing and smearing Hill is recognized as an effort to criminalize legitimate criticism of the apartheid state of Israel and its effort to, incredibly, perpetuate its own holocaust.
The focus of outrage about Hill’s speech seems to be one phrase, which I have chosen as the title of this piece, “from the river to the sea.” The anger over use of this phrase, and the assignment of false meaning to the intention of his use of it, is being used to overshadow the condemning reality that Hill exposed during his address. His use of the phrase is referred to as a, “dog whistle”, as it is associated with more radical Palestinian ideals, which are being twisted and associated with rhetoric used explicitly by Hamas; which is mendacious. The truth is that any ideal that would fully restore justice is, by its nature, at the expense of an unjust ruling entity, and so will be considered radical. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t just.
Speaking of dog whistles, Patrick O’Connor, chairman of the board of Temple University, said that the sobering words spoken by that brilliant, courageous, truth telling, and therefore radical Black man, Marc Lamont Hill, in solidarity with the brilliant, courageous, determined, yet oppressed Palestinians, “blackens [Temple University’s] name unnecessarily (emphasis mine).”
I think that’s ironic.
What it isn’t, to echo another of Hill’s sentiments, is surprising. He spoke light to the violence and oppression imposed against Palestinians by the Israeli state. That he was fired for this while those who stand in defense of Israel and, by extension, their human rights violations are tolerated and even protected — that is standard. No matter where they are, colonial masters, as they’ve been called, but which are in truth colonial leaches, are protected by every institution in a context such as this, the most powerful settler colonial state in the world.
The levying of consequence against the speaking of any colonial leach state sends a clear message that righteousness will not be tolerated by the power brokers of the system. Unfortunately for them, there are many who don’t give a fuck about their consequences or their tolerances.