Summer 2024 /Global Pomona/

Amid Tension, Pomona Holds Sessions on Mideast Issues

War in Israel and Gaza made for a tense and contentious year on Pomona’s campus, with protests, disruptions, occupations, arrests, a referendum and a debate that did not end with Commencement, which itself was moved to Los Angeles due to an encampment on the quad.

This was all covered through news media and social media from a range of viewpoints as part of a major national story that reached coast to coast, from UCLA to Columbia, and encompassed congressional hearings and global coverage.

Perhaps overlooked in all this was a quieter phenomenon on Pomona’s campus, one that unfolded in the presence of pain, sorrow and division. Starting in November, amid the protests and controversy, the College held a series of academic lectures and panels looking at the conflict and related issues from multiple vantage points.

These academic events were largely well attended—some with standing room only —and took place without disruption, a positive sign for the College’s mission in a difficult year for higher education. As the Mideast conflict tragically continues, Pomona plans for deeper scholarly engagement in these areas in the next academic year.

Among the past year’s events:

  • “Contextualizing the Conflict” with Joanne Randa Nucho, chair and associate professor of anthropology and coordinator of Middle Eastern studies, and Mietek Boduszynski, associate professor of politics and former U.S. diplomat.
  • “On Nationalism in Its Historical Context” with Gary Kates, H. Russell Smith Foundation Chair in the Social Sciences and professor of history, and “On Zionism in Its Historical Context” by Claremont McKenna Associate Professor of Religious Studies Gary Gilbert.
  • “Palestine: Understanding Iran’s Role” by Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Studies Kouross Esmaeli.
  • “Contested Past/Contest Present: Understanding the Impact of Interwar British Rule on Palestine” with Associate Professor of History Penny Sinanoglou.
  • “Antisemitism” with Oona Eisenstadt, Fred Krinsky Professor of Jewish Studies and professor of religious studies, and “Islamophobia” with Imam Hadi Qazwini, Muslim chaplain for The Claremont Colleges.
  • “Ambassador Dennis Ross and Ghaith al-Omari in Conversation.” One of the larger events had former U.S. Mideast envoy Dennis Ross and Ghaith al-Omari, who served in a variety of positions within the Palestinian Authority, discussing the current war and what the path to peace might look like.
  • Presented together: “Rome & the Great Jewish Revolt, with Christopher Chinn, chair and professor of classics; “The First Crusade & the Holy Land” with Ken Wolf, professor of classics, John Sutton Minor Professor of History, and coordinator of late antique-medieval studies; and “The British Mandate & Palestine,” with Penny Sinanoglou, associate professor of history.