Palestine Labor Abolition Affinity groups Commentary

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January 5, 2024

CMC affinity groups release statement expressing solidarity with Palestine

Leaders of Latine, Black and AAPI student groups criticized a faculty statement for "failing to acknowledge ... genocide."

Undercurrents staff
Students planted Palestine flags on Walker Beach as part of a solidarity action on Dec. 8. Photo by Samson Zhang

On Nov. 13, 2023, leaders of affinity groups representing first-generation, Latine, Black and Asian American and Pacific Islander students at Claremont McKenna College released a joint statement to their members expressing solidarity with Palestine and disappointment with CMC faculty responses to the ongoing siege on Gaza.

The statement emphasized their respective groups’ historical ties to the Palestinian genocide, and urged CMC community members to assume a larger role in the ongoing campaign for the Claremont Colleges to divest from Israeli apartheid.

“As affinity groups, we feel the loss and hurt of these members of our community and stand in solidarity with them and with Palestine, in their efforts to resist attempts of erasure and eradication,” the statement said.

Prior to the release of the student affinity statement, an Oct. 23 statement signed by 60 CMC faculty members condemned the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. On Nov. 7, 30 CMC faculty members released a second statement reaffirming the prior statement, while acknowledging that Palestinians were killed by Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza. 

The affinity group statement criticized CMC faculty for “[failing] to acknowledge and inform our community of a genocide that is nearing its completion,” and for erasing the context of Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“CMC Faculty Members…failed to understand that Palestinians do not ‘just happen to be living in the wrong place,’ but have been and continue to be killed and pushed out by the IDF and the Israeli state,” the statement said.

The statement was written and signed by the board majorities of 1GEN (CMC’s first-generation student group), ¡Mi Gente! (CMC’s Latine student group), Black Student Association (BSA), Asian American Pacific Mentoring group (APAM), and Asian Pacific Pacific Student Association (APASA).

One of the affinity statement’s co-authors, a member of ¡Mi Gente!, told Undercurrents that the statement was meant to provide more historical information when the CMC faculty statements had “failed to show the bigger picture.” 

“Our Latin American communities are not strangers to the violence inflicted by settler colonialism, especially when it comes to how the US plays a major role in being the oppressor,” the ¡Mi Gente! member, who asked to remain anonymous for their safety, said. “It’s important to understand how what is happening to Palestinians in Palestine has happened to our ancestors and families for centuries.”

Another co-author, a member of BSA, pointed to ties between colonial exploitation across the Black diaspora to the Zionist occupation of Palestine.

“We see the colonial narrative of Palestine: the use and exploitation of their land and people by Western forces followed by the imperative to resist, to revolt – for its people to reclaim sovereignty over their land and their destiny – all around the Black diaspora,” the student, who also asked to remain anonymous out of safety concerns, said. “We see it today in Haiti, in Niger, in Sudan, in The Democratic Republic of Congo, in Tigray and countless other places.”

The statement also takes excerpts from Claremont SJP and JVP statements that were released on Oct. 8th to provide more historical background. The excerpts taken recognize the ongoing siege as not an isolated incident but “a result of the ongoing Nakba and continued dispossession of Indigenous land.” 

On Nov. 10th, CMC 1GEN released their own statement on Instagram. On Nov. 11, the majority of ¡Mi Gente!’s executive board also released a separate statement committing to solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

“We recognize that commitments to neutrality or vows of silence have never, and will never, save us from the gravest effects of racism, colonialism, and imperialism, which have already stolen so much from our communities,” the statement reads.

Multiple sources told Undercurrents that an affinity group leader asked ASCMC to send the statement to an all-student email list, but ASCMC declined to do so. Undercurrents reached out to ASCMC for confirmation, but did not immediately receive a reply. This article will be updated once a response is received.

On Oct. 31, more than 100 other faculty members across the Claremont Colleges released a statement affirming solidarity with Palestine, calling for a ceasefire and supporting Boycott Divest and Sanctions on Israel.

In the last section of the affinity group statement, students encourage CMC community members to attend demonstrations for Palestine across the 5Cs, participate in Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions boycotts against Israel, and to demand a ceasefire from local Congressional representatives.

“CMC students are noticeably and consistently missing from teaching and demonstrations compared to the other campuses,” the BSA member said. “Many think they are too far separated or isolated from the situation. This is a delusion. We are all tied to this.”

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Thanks for reading Undercurrents

Undercurrents reports on labor, Palestine liberation, prison abolition and other community organizing at and around the Claremont Colleges.

Issue 1 / Spring 2023

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