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Pomona College Student Gov’t Passes BDS Resolution

The Jewish Journal

Aaron Bandler

April 23, 2021


Mason Hall and the Academic Quadrangle, Pomona College. Photo by Nostalgicwisdom under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Pomona College student government unanimously passed a pro-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution on April 22. The Claremont Independent reported that the resolution, which was authored by Claremont Colleges Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Claremont Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), called on the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) to cease funding student clubs that “invest in or purchase goods or services from companies that contribute to the settlement and occupation of Palestinian occupied territories by the UN-designated companies or the Israeli state” and to stop stores headed by the ASPC from selling such goods.


Claremont SJP celebrated the resolution’s passage as “an important first step in reducing our complicity with a country that maintains an illegal military occupation and regularly commits crimes against humanity against the indigenous Palestinian population.” JVP’s Los Angeles chapter said in a statement that student activism in favor of the resolution “supports Palestinians in their own struggle for freedom and equality, and it brings the world closer to a future defined by a just and secure peace for all in Palestine and Israel.”


However, Janie Marcus, who heads the Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance, told the Journal that Jewish students and the local Hillel were not notified about the resolution and didn’t get a chance to weigh in on it before it was passed. “It really seems more than anything else that they wanted to do this in secret.”


She added that the resolution “marginalizes Jewish students who view Israel as the Jewish homeland and directly targets these Jewish students” and pointed out that the Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance could lose funding if the resolution is enforced, as the club provides support to various Jewish organizations and Jewish companies. “I worry that our club could come under fire and lose funding just because we support Israel.”


Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr denounced the ASPC for holding the vote “without representation from any student opposition” and urged the ASPC to revisit the matter to ensure that all viewpoints are heard. “The resolution’s stated goal of eventually enacting requirements that all student clubs supported by ASPC — not just ASPC itself — comply with its divestment stance or lose funding is also of deep concern, as it would require all students, regardless of their views, to participate in a boycott,” Starr said. “We urge ASPC to reverse course and allow for full discussion, and we welcome an open dialogue on this matter.”


“WE URGE ASPC TO REVERSE COURSE AND ALLOW FOR FULL DISCUSSION, AND WE WELCOME AN OPEN DIALOGUE ON THIS MATTER.”

— POMONA COLLEGE PRESIDENT G. GABRIELLE STARR


Marcus said that she was “thrilled” about Starr’s statement for putting pressure on the ASPC to rescind the resolution, but she won’t be satisfied until such action is taken. “I think the first step is to create some sort of dialogue and to bring Jewish students and minority voices into the discussion… I’m curious what will happen when some of these other voices are included.”


Jewish groups condemned the resolution. “The passage of this new Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution by the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) is a disturbing trend we have seen in recent years on a number of the campuses in The Claremont Consortium,” Anti-Defamation League Senior Associate Regional Director Natan Pakman said in a statement to the Journal. “BDS campaigns promote a biased and simplistic approach to the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict and present this dispute over territorial and nationalist claims as the fault of only one party — Israel. The BDS campaign does not support Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and rejects a two-state solution to the conflict.”


StandWithUs co-founder and CEO Roz Rothstein similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “It is shameful that a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution was passed by Pomona College’s student government without the knowledge or input from the Jewish and Israeli community on campus. What is especially disturbing is that this resolution stated intent to deny funding to any student groups who do not support divestment. Passing this resolution without consulting important constituencies and attempting to deny funding to those who oppose efforts to demonize Israel is a blatant disregard for Pomona College ASPC’s stated values of ethics. It is appalling to see such flagrant efforts to exclude students for their Zionist identities.”


AMCHA Initiative Director Tami Rossman-Benjamin called the resolution “particularly sinister” in a statement to the Journal, noting that it would require pro-Israel student clubs “to disavow their support for Israel or lose their student government funding, effectively discriminating against and suppressing the free speech of Jewish and pro-Israel students. That is a direct violation of the First Amendment and cannot be left unaddressed. The university must not only condemn this resolution, they must immediately nullify it.”


The ASPC did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.


Read the article here.


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