Palestine Labor Abolition Affinity groups Commentary

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Palestine

March 30, 2024

How Gabi Starr has spoken about Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza since Oct. 7 

Gabi Starr has sent out a number of emails surrounding the genocide of the Palestinian people and pro-Palestine actions since Oct. 7. Here is a timeline.

Undercurrents staff

Since Oct. 7, 2023, Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza has killed 32,783 people, more than 13,000 of which were children. From Oct. 11 to Feb. 16, Pomona College President Gabi Starr issued a series of open letters to the Pomona community consistently minimizing the impact of the ongoing genocide. Here is a timeline highlighting the language Starr has used to describe the genocide since her first letter. 

It should be noted that some of the emails Starr sent to Pomona’s student body differ from the open letters posted to the college website, specifically the Oct. 25 letter, “On Protest in a Time of Crisis” and the Nov. 8 letter, “Pluralism, Dissent and Discrimination.” 

Oct. 12, 2023: Israel has killed at least 1,350 Gazans and displaced 300,000 in over six days of bombardment

In an email titled “Grief: Message Regarding Attacks in Israel,” Starr wrote that “the news of the terrorist attacks in Israel become more wrenching with each day” and referred to those “murdered” in Israel and Gaza. Starr emphasized that she “joined many members of our community in vigil and prayer.” Pomona removed over 100 letters, signs, flowers and other items laid out as a vigil for Palestine just a few weeks later. 

Oct. 18, 2023: Israel has killed at least 3,478 Gazans in 12 days. On Oct. 17, an air raid of al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza killed at least 500 people 

Starr began her weekly update by acknowledging the “ongoing violence in the Middle East,” emphasizing that her “fervent hope is for peace” before saying that “at this somber time, building community and connection is essential.” She then went on to announce the opening of the Draper Center’s new facility in downtown Pomona. 

Oct. 25, 2023: Israel has killed at least 6,546 Gazans in 19 days, and damaged 34 health centers and 207 educational facilities. 

In an email titled “On protest in a time of crisis,” Starr announced new restrictions on student protest in light of “the escalating war in the Middle East.” “No matter how passionate you are, I ask that you think about how your words will be heard by those who live and learn with you,” the email read.

Nov. 8, 2023: Israel has killed at least 10,569 Gazans in 33 days, including an average of one child every 10 minutes since Oct.7. 

Among other phrasing, Starr referred to “the horrific October 7 terrorist attacks in Israel and … the ongoing conflict” in an email titled “Pluralism, Dissent and Discrimination.” Starr shared that students may be asked to remove masks to be identified at protests, a policy that external Zionist organization StandWithUs recommended to Starr on Nov. 7, Undercurrents reported.

Dec. 1, 2023: Israel has killed at least 15,000 Gazans by Nov. 29. Precise numbers are unavailable due to Israel’s destruction of medical and communication services in Gaza City on Nov. 10. 

In an email titled “Update on Addressing Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Shared Ancestry Discrimination,” Starr said that “perpetuating the idea that if a Jewish person supports Israel, they are supporting the killing of infants and children” constitutes antisemitic hate speech. Referring to the “trauma unfolding in the world beyond our gates,” Starr emphasized that both “pro-Palestinian” and “pro-Israeli” voices “should be welcome at Pomona.”

Dec. 22, 2023: Israel has killed at least 20,057 Gazans since Oct. 7, including at least 66 journalists. 

In an end-of-year email, Starr spoke about the “strife and loss of life in the Middle East” and shouted out a Pomona alum who is reporting for the Associated Press from Jerusalem. 

Jan. 17, 2024: Israel has killed at least 24,285 Gazans since Oct. 7 and damaged or destroyed more than half of Gaza’s homes. 

In a beginning-of-year email, Starr called out “strong disagreements” that require “skills to engage in dialogue” with, mentioning “The profoundly divergent views nationwide and on our campus regarding the war in the Middle East” as an example. She then announced a “Return to Pomona” initiative for alumni to visit campus.

Jan. 19, 2024: Al Jazeera reported that Israel killed 355 more Gazans between Starr’s Jan. 17 to Jan. 19 emails bringing the count to 24,620.

In an email titled “An invitation to dialogue,” Starr announced that she is creating small working groups to discuss how to “create a campus climate for deeper dialogue” and that the Dean’s Office will host talks “contextualizing the Middle East conflict.”

Feb. 16, 2024: Al Jazeera reported that Israel killed 355 more Gazans between Starr’s Jan. 17 and Jan. 19 emails, bringing the count to 29,170

Starr sent an email titled “Pomona opens doors, we don’t close them” to all students opposing ASPC’s announcement of a referendum on whether Pomona should divest from Israeli apartheid. “We are living through a time of horrific warfare and growing threats to discourse and democracy … At no point have we taken sides,” she wrote.

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Incoming ASPC President: Pomona Board of Trustees want to “buy our silence and complicity in genocide through donations”

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Pomona admin met with Claremont Police Chief days before Alexander Hall sit-in to plan intervention, emails show

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

Setting the Standard

How Pomona workers won a historic $25 minimum wage; a new union in Claremont; Tony Hoang on organizing

Read issue 1