Pro-Palestinian Protesters march through Washington.
A new Claremont College faculty statement on Gaza has garnered over 175 signatures since its release on October 31st. While mourning “all loss of human life,” the statement’s signatories write that they are “especially concerned for the welfare of residents of Gaza, who have already suffered for nearly two decades under Israel’s blockade.”
They describe Israel’s counterattack on the Gaza Strip as a “new and alarming phase in the long record of violence, displacement, and colonial domination of Palestine….The roots of this new phase lie in a well-documented 75+ year history of Israeli settler-colonialism, military occupation and apartheid.” As of November 5th, the attack has resulted in almost 10,000 Palestinian deaths according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.
The statement seems to criticize an earlier letter signed by 65 Claremont McKenna faculty members condemning Hamas’ October 7th attack. “Without an acknowledgment of… context, condemnations only of specific acts of violence perpetrated by Palestinian armed groups can serve to disavow the roots of violence under a seemingly neutral mask of humanitarian concern,” the statement reads.
The statement also endorses the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement aimed at cutting off foreign investment in Israel. The statement calls on members of the Claremont Colleges community to promote BDS until Israel “1) ends its siege of Gaza and its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the Wall; 2) recognizes the fundamental rights of Palestinians in Israel to full equality; and 3) implements the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”
The letter also expresses concern over threats to pro-Palestine faculty members’ speech rights allegedly posed by “Zionist advocacy organizations.”
“In addition to violating constitutional free speech rights,” the statement reads, “such closures on critical social thought and public discourse violate academic freedom, are antithetical to the missions of our Colleges, disrupt our capacity to fulfill our professional, scholarly, and pedagogical responsibilities, and stifle our students’ efforts to engage in public political action.”
The statement concludes with a call to action: “We call upon our colleagues in Claremont to join us in this solidarity, by contacting Congressional representatives to demand a ceasefire, supporting BDS efforts, and upholding academic freedom and free speech protections for all community members.”
As of November 5th, 145 faculty from across the Claremont Colleges had signed on publicly, with an additional 33 declining to provide their names.