Syracuse University hosted fired CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill in a virtual talk on Black voter suppression, on February 26. The event was part of the university's inaugural "Racial Equity Academic Symposium," presented by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Academic Affairs.
The announcement came out just days after Hill, a Temple University professor stated that the goal of Black Lives Matter is to "dismantl[e] of a Zionist project."
In 2018, CNN fired Hill after he called for a "free Palestine, from the river to the sea," which many perceive as a call for the total elimination of Israel. Temple University let Hill keep his job following those comments, as Campus Reform reported at the time.
The university's Student Association advertised his event on the same day that it tabled a resolution to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. The student association opposed the definition because it included anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Jewish sentiment, according to the Daily Orange.
In 2018, Hill invoked the name of convicted terrorist hijacker Leila Khaled.
"To me, 'Hands Up Don't Shoot' was always problematic, 'cause this isn't the posture I want to have against a violent state," Hill stated during a panel discussion, hosted by the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
"If I'ma do this, I ain't trying to be like this, I'm going, I'm going Leila Khaled style, right? But. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm probably fired right now. But, f**k it, might as well get it done then, right? Might as well go all the way", he continued.
In its press release, Syracuse University said the February symposium with Hill would "provide a platform for the campus and surrounding community to engage in intellectual discourse about issues related to race and equity."
"We wanted the symposium to be a full campus endeavor because racial equity impacts our full campus, it impacts everyone," Executive Director of Strategic Communications and Initiatives Eboni Britt said.
Syracuse University previously hosted Hill as the honored keynote speaker for its annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in 2016. During that same week, an Israeli filmmaker was disinvited from a campus speaking engagement, in response to threats from Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) activists.
Syracuse University Associate Professor of Political Science Miriam Elman, who heads the Academic Engagement Network, says she can "only imagine how dismayed SU's Jewish students must feel to know that an invited presenter for the inaugural academic symposium on racial equity thinks that a central component of their faith identity should be 'dismantled.'"
"Marc Lamont Hill's recent divisive remarks at a DSA-hosted virtual webinar, along with many of his prior comments about Israel and Zionism over the years, clearly fall outside the boundaries of legitimate criticism because they're not directed at any particular Israeli policies nor do they offer any specific reform," she told Campus Reform.
"Instead, they're a rejection of the notion of Jewish peoplehood and Israel's very right to exist."
Former Orange for Israel President Katie Berman, who co-presented the IHRA resolution to the Student Association told Campus Reform that Hill should have been allowed to speak, but his remarks needed to be condemned. When she presented the IHRA resolution during the session, she called it "timely," referencing Hill's upcoming talk at the time.
"It would be an extremely disheartening to have a speaker like that speak without those comments being condemned, and a very simple way to condemn them would be to pass this, or to acknowledge this definition of antisemitism, which acknowledges that the comments made by him are, in fact, antisemitic," she told the Student Association.
Elman agreed that Hill should not be disinvited, but instead, denounced.
"Temple University's President and Board of Trustees have rightly condemned Hill's hateful rhetoric in the past, while affirming that the First Amendment shields him from university action. At Temple as at SU, the best antidote for Hill's offensive and polarizing words is more and better speech," Elman told Campus Reform.
"I hope that in the near future SU's Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Office of Academic Affairs will invite other experts to campus who can speak to how antisemitism and anti-Black racism lie at the core of white supremacy and how Black-Jewish solidarity can be advanced in the face of this growing threat," she added. "In the context of this worthwhile SU symposium, what is also so disheartening about Hill's incendiary rhetoric at the DSA event is his 'explicit' effort to ostracize and exclude Jews, the vast majority of whom feel connected to Israel and self-identify as Zionist, from the black lives matter movement and the conversation about racial justice," she continued.
Campus Reform reached out to Syracuse University multiple times, but did not receive a response in time for publication.