Hill, a media studies professor at Temple University, had drawn scrutiny for calling for a "free Palestine from the river to the sea." The words drew criticism from some conservatives and staunch Israel advocates, who said such remarks echoed language used by Hamas and other groups that seek to eliminate Israel.
"Marc Lamont Hill is no longer under contract with CNN," spokeswoman Barbara Levin told The Washington Post. The company did not answer questions about why he was dismissed. The firing was first reported by Mediaite.
Some mainstream Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, expressed frustration with Hill's remarks, which also included endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. Fox News also fanned the flames.
Hill has been pushing back against the criticism, arguing that the detractors were ascribing to his statements meaning that wasn't there.
"At no point did I endorse, support, or even mention Hamas. This is dishonest," he said Wednesday on Twitter. "I was very clear in my comments about desiring freedom, justice, and self-determination for EVERYONE."
On Thursday, he issued a lengthier explanation for his statements. "I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice," Hill wrote. "I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things."
He said that the "river to the sea" phrase dates to the early 20th century and "has never been the exclusive province of a particular ideological camp."
"This means that all areas of historic Palestine - e.g., West Bank, Gaza, Israel - must be spaces of freedom, safety, and peace for Palestinians," he wrote. "The idea that this is a Hamas phrase is simply untrue."
Some used the news of Lamont's firing to attack CNN.
"FINALLY FIRED," wrote Sebastian Gorka, a former aide to President Donald Trump. "Now for the rest of the Anti-Semites @CNN and the rest of the Left embrace."
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