CAMERA Op-Ed: The Propaganda of Marc Lamont Hill

Marc Lamont Hill grandiosely introduces himself on his personal Web site as “one of the leading intellectual voices in the country.” Needless to say, proclaiming yourself a “leading intellectual voice” suggests that you aren’t: Real intellectuals do not have to announce this.

Indeed, Hill’s May 17, 2018 opinion column in Huffington Post, entitled “7 Myths About The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” is devoid of anything resembling intellectual arguments or factual information.

Quite the contrary, his essay represents the sort of disinformation that is rooted in a bigoted worldview where the Jewish state is considered illegitimate and a terrorist regime like Hamas’ is seen as one to be bolstered.

Lamont Hill’s radical, pro-terrorist stance is not news. He previously argued that the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli children in 2014 was “not terrorism” but “resistance.” He lamented the fact that the Iron Dome, which protects Israeli citizens from being blown up by Hamas rockets, “takes away all of Hamas’s military leverage.” He advocated on behalf of convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmeah Odeh. And he attacked as “offensive and counterproductive” the call by President Trump for Palestinians to reject hatred and terrorism.

Still, because Lamont Hill is a professor of “Media, Cities, and Solutions” at Temple University, and because he promotes himself as a “leading intellectual,” his radical bilge might, to some, have a veneer of authority. It should therefore be exposed for its dishonesty.

Hill begins his article by altering the timeline of the Gaza riots (protests, in his parlance) to wrongly suggest they followed and were about the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.

In fact, no one, including Palestinian news sources, disputes that the Palestinians’ so-called “Great March of Return” began at the end of March, months before the embassy move. It was a weeks-long campaign, orchestrated by the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas, among others, to storm Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip and promote the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for thousands of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and their millions of descendants – i.e. eliminate the Jewish state through demographic means.

From this initial distortion follow more outrageous, false or nonsensical assertions. Using the format of myths to be deconstructed, Hill denies the religious ideology that informs Arab Muslim enmity toward the Jewish state and presents a simplistic colonialist narrative in which Jews are colonizers of an indigenous Palestinian community. This ignores the millenia-long historical Jewish presence in the land, and takes as its starting point the subsequent Arab-Islamic conquest and colonization. It is this counter-intellectual, selective history that provides the basis for delegitimizing the Jewish state, rejecting any peaceful solution to the conflict based on compromise and sharing, and justifying Palestinian violence and terrorism.

Below are the seven “myths” Hill purports to refute:

1. These people have been fighting forever.

Hill’s first “myth” takes aim at a throwaway colloquialism without addressing any of the actual misapprehensions and issues associated with the Arab-Israeli conflict. There is no dispute that the land was colonized by various peoples throughout its history, including conquests by the Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Mamluks and Ottomans, not to mention the Crusaders. Hill’s observation that the most recent conflict arose after World War I (when the Ottoman colonialist empire was replaced) is a meaningless statement that adds nothing to the conversation – and leaves readers scratching their heads at his illogical conclusion that such a claim reinforces prejudice against Arabs.

2. This is a religious conflict.

Hill’s contention that the conflict “is not about religion” is notably ignorant, as it belies the claims of the Palestinians themselves.

Hamas, the Islamist terror group that governs Gaza, defines itself as a “Palestinian Islamic national liberation and resistance movement” whose “frame of reference is Islam.” Its ultimate goal is “the liberation of Palestine” from “the river to the sea,” and “to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes.” Article 9 of its governing charter calls for the region to “return [to its rightful owner], and from the top of its mosques, the [Muslim] call for prayer will ring out announcing the rise of the rule of Islam, so that people and things shall all return to their proper place.” Hamas leaders publicly declare their intention to establish an Islamic caliphate in place of the Jewish state.

The call for jihad to “protect Muslim holy sites” was a battle cry that began after World War I by local Arab leader Grand Mufti Haj Amin al Husseini to fan the flames of hatred and suspicion against the Jewish population of Palestine. Ever since, both secular and  religious leaders have repeatedly turned to this mantra to incite anti-Jewish violence and jihad in the name of Islam and have made it an essential component of the conflict. This is reinforced by the secular Palestinian Authority’s repeated denial of Jewish historical and religious connection to the land, and its claims of Islamic dominance and history in place of the Jews.

3. It’s very complicated.

Here, Hill presents a spurious propaganda claim – that the Palestinians are “a people who have been expelled, murdered, robbed, imprisoned and occupied” – as an obvious truth. Hill makes no effort to support this falsehood with any actual facts, as if reducing the complexity of the conflict to a “myth,” and proclaiming a bogus propaganda claim to be the “very simple reality” of the conflict, he obviates any such intellectual requirement.

4. Palestinians keep turning down fair deals.

Hill predicates his refutation of this truth upon the ahistorical and biased notion that the Palestinians are the indigenous people and rightful heirs of the land, while Jews are foreign interlopers who stole their patrimony. He thus negates the legitimacy of any Jewish state, dismissing the fact Jews are indigenous to the land since biblical times, with an almost continuous Jewish presence there throughout the various conquests and over thousands of years and that the Palestinian inhabitants of the land include many whose ancestors migrated from nearby countries – Sinai, Trans-Jordan and Syria – during the period of the British Mandate.

Instead, Hill discounts any Jewish claim to the land, contending that it would be “unfair” to expect Palestinians to compromise in any way with Israel or to share land and suggesting that anything short of eliminating the Jewish state entirely is unacceptable.

The fact is that the Palestinians have refused at least three substantive offers of statehood, starting with the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Resolution 181, which proposed dividing the land of the British Mandate into two neighboring states: Jewish and Arab. Arab leaders rejected that plan, and attempted instead to rid the region of a Jewish state by launching an illegal and brutal war that violated both the above-mentioned resolution and the UN Charter. Had they chosen to accept this plan, the Palestinians would have had an independent state as old as the modern state of Israel.

In 2000, the Palestinians had another opportunity to establish an independent state. U.S. President Bill Clinton held peace negotiations in Camp David between then-Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and presented an extensive plan known as the Clinton Parameters that included Israeli turnover of land and withdrawal of Israeli military forces and inhabitants. Despite the huge concessions that were demanded of Israel, its leader accepted the proposal. The Palestinian leader, however, rejected it, without offering any counter-proposal. Arafat chose instead to wage a terror campaign against Israeli civilians, known as the Second Intifada. Had Arafat accepted, the Palestinians would have had a contiguous state including the entire Gaza Strip, approximately 95% of the West Bank and sovereignty over Arab areas of eastern Jerusalem. Jewish inhabitants would have been withdrawn from those areas and Palestinian refugees could have returned there. The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, had strongly encouraged the Palestinian leader to accept the offer, saying if he lost this opportunity it would be a “crime.” President Clinton, his negotiators and Prince Bandar all blamed Arafat for rejecting this deal, with the Saudi prince saying that the Palestinian rejection of the plan “broke his heart.”

In 2008, an even more extensive statehood proposal was offered to the Palestinians, following negotiations with Israeli leader Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Under this proposal, Jerusalem would have been divided between Israel and a Palestinian state, Israeli inhabitants in the West Bank would have been evacuated, including from the historic Jewish city of Hebron. And in exchange for Israel annexing some Israeli settlements, Palestinians would have been compensated with equivalent territory in pre-1967 Israel. The Palestinian leader, however, rejected the deal.

5. Palestinians don’t want peace.

Hill employs this as an opportunity to express his radical support for Palestinian terrorism and violence. Arguing that this claim “castigates Palestinians for resisting their brutal occupation and repression,” Hill justifies mass murders of Israeli civilians as the Palestinians’ “legal and moral right.” According to Hill, brutality is the domain of the Jews while Palestinian-perpetrated savagery is legitimate “resistance.”

6. Israel has a right to exist!

Hill declares that “no country has a right to exist, only people do,”and follows this by stating that the idea of such a right “reifies the nation-state, erasing its relatively new emergence as a political imaginary construct…”

Behind his pretentious jargon is Hill’s intellectual dishonesty as he denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland, while in the same article lamenting that the Palestinians “have never been offered a deal that allows for a truly independent, fertile, sufficient and secure state.” Given that the Palestinians have always preconditioned their proposed state upon the expulsion of Jewish settlers, it is clear that any Palestinian state would preclude Jewish participation – and equally clear that Hill employs a double standard about which people have the right to self-determination and statehood.

The definition of anti-Semitism, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), adopted by the European Union and endorsed by the US State Department, includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.”

7. You’re anti-Semitic!

Hill pre-emptively dismisses charges of anti-Semitism as a “strategy” by the Zionist/Israel/Jewish lobby/ to muzzle legitimate criticism of Israel. It is the modus operandi of all those who delegitimize the Jewish state and deny Jews the right to self-determination.

But criticism of Israeli governmental policies or military actions is not the same thing as anti-Semitism. And charges of anti-Semitism by supporters of Israel are not generally levelled at those who merely criticize Israeli policies or leaders: They are aimed at those who demonize Israel with false accusations, defend and justify terrorism against Jews, and delegitimize the right of the Jewish state to exist  — all of which Hill is doing.

Note: This Op-Ed also appeared in  The Algemeiner on June 5, 2018.