Marc Lamont Hill has a long history of posing as an expert on the Middle East with the sole aim of excoriating Israel. In 2019 article in the Jerusalem Post, Seth J. Frantzman observes:
Hill’s latest excoriation of Israel, posted to his 90,000 followers [on Facebook], followed Mazzig’s [Hen Mazzig, an Israeli writer, and Mizrahi] argument that Israel is not a country of “privileged and powerful white Europeans.” Mazzig sought to emphasize the role of Mizrahi Jews in Israeli history and condemned the tendency of critics to define Israelis as Ashkenazi Jews alone. Hill responded that Mazzig ignores “the racial and political project that transformed Palestinian Jews (who lived peacefully with other Palestinians) into the 20th century identity category of ‘Mizrahi’ as a means of detaching them from Palestinian identity.”
Hill is claiming that the category of “Mizrahi Jews” — “Oriental Jews,” that is, “Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry” — was made up by Ashkenazi Jews to “detach” them from their “Palestinian identity.” In fact, Mizrahi Jews have their own history, never considered themselves as “Palestinians,” and did not “live peacefully” with Arabs, but only as dhimmis, subject to a host of social, economic, and political disabilities, including, most importantly, the duty to pay the jizyah, a capitation tax that allowed them to continue to worship as Jews free from Muslim attack. Frantzman also states:
Mazzig posted a screenshot of another exchange with Hill in which Hill wrote that “I literally study Yemeni and Moroccan Jews for a living.”
What “living” is that? He doesn’t teach about Yemeni and Moroccan Jews; he hasn’t written a word about them. So why does Marc Lamont Hill claim that he “literally” studies them “for a living”? I thought he studied race, racism, anti-racism, and of course hip-hop lit, for his living. Has he quietly changed the subject of his study? Can we be expecting a paper soon on “Yemeni and Moroccan Jews” by “one of the leading intellectual voices in the country”?
In a new exposé on Hill at Elder of Ziyon, Daled Amos notes: “At least Hill had the decency to delete the post.” Even Marc Lamont Hill thought better of it, and decided he didn’t want anyone testing his knowledge of “Yemeni and Moroccan Jews,” so he quite sensibly deleted the post where he makes that claim of “literally” studying them “for a living.” Amos adds that in 2018, “Hill accused Israel of poisoning Palestinian water.” Jeffrey Cimmino writes in the Washington Free Beacon:
“I can’t just think about political prisoners here in the states; I have to think about political prisoners in Palestine,” Hill said. “And I have to ask questions about what the face of those prisoners look like, and what legitimate resistance looks like.”
But there are no “political prisoners” in Israel. There are imprisoned terrorists, and imprisoned common criminals, but no one is put in jail in Israel for holding political views the government may not like. An Israeli Arab or Jew, can mock Prime Minister Netanyahu, or the Knesset, or Zionism, all he wants, and nothing will happen to him. Of course, calling for the murder of Jews cannot be protected as “political speech.” Does Marc Lamont Hill understand the distinction? If he is interested in “political speech” in the Middle East that is punished, he will have to look elsewhere — at Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia (think of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi), Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco. Or he might look at the Palestinian Authority, whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, has a history of imprisoning or expelling his critics, and of killing those who were most effective and a threat to his rule. Does Marc Lamont Hill, so deeply involved in Palestinian matters, know about Abbas having his goons beat to death Nizar Banat? Cimmino adds:
Hill also said that people who struggle tend to favor a “civil rights tradition” that “romanticizes nonviolence.”
“How can you romanticize nonviolence when you have a state that is at all moments waging war against you, against your bodies, poisoning your water, limiting your access to water, locking up your children, killing them?” Hill asked. “We can’t romanticize resistance.”
He has not retracted these preposterous charges about Israel “poisoning [Palestinian] water” and “killing” Palestinian children. Jews and Arabs in Israel drink the same water; Jews and Palestinians in the West Bank also drink from the same sources. That can be discovered in a minute of searching the Internet. Perhaps Marc Lamont Hill would like to provide his source for such a charge. And the charge that Israelis are “killing” Palestinian children is similarly absurd; It is the terror groups Hamas and PIJ that deliberately put Palestinian civilians, including children, in harm’s way, by placing weapons, fighters, control-and-command centers, and rocket launchers, in or near schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, mosques, and other civilian structures. And it is the IDF that makes enormous efforts to avoid hitting those civilians, including children, by warning them away from buildings about to be targeted — by telephoning, emailing, leafletting, and using the “knock-on-the-roof” technique. British Colonel Richard Kemp, describing the extraordinary efforts of the IDF to minimize civilian casualties, has called the IDF “the most moral army in the world.”
Despite Hill’s atrocious libels against Israel, CUNY decided that none of that mattered — if it performed due diligence it would certainly have been aware of Hill’s obsessive anti-Israel remarks, including his charge about Israel “poisoning [Palestinian] water” and “killing [Palestinian[ children,” when it appointed this chattering mountebank to be a “Presidential Professor” of Urban Education. I assume he will be teaching Hip-Hop Lit, the subject of his doctoral dissertation, and will also be taking time from his busy schedule of self-promotion to read a few dozen Wikipedia articles on the Middle East, in order to be able to proudly proclaim, as he once did about Moroccan and Yemeni studies, “I literally study Yemeni and Moroccan Jews for a living” — that is, “I literally study atrocities allegedly committed by Israel on Palestinians for a living.” I can’t wait — can you? — for him to dispense more of his wisdom about that awful Jewish state that bestrides the world like a colossus, while no one cares as much as Presidential Professor Marc Lamont Hill about the “plight of the poor Palestinians.” Amos continues:
And in that same video where he claimed Israel poisoned Palestinian water, Hill went on to invoke the first female Palestinian plane hijacker, suggesting that peaceful resistance was being romanticized and cannot be “fetishized” in the US:
“If I’m to do this, I ain’t trying to be like this [a “non-violent resister”]. I’m going Leila Khaled-style.”
He means that he’s not one of those namby-pamby non-violence types (you know, like Martin Luther King and John Lewis). He wants fighters for freedom, like himself, to emulate instead Leila Khaled, Fatima Bernawi, Rasmiah Odeh. Don’t try to mess with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill.