Middlebury College, Vermont - May 2021
A number of students on social media questioned the vigil’s advertised prohibition on anti-Zionist speech. Posters for the event read, “Antisemitism, Anti-Zionism, Islamophobia, and Anti-Palestinian Hate will not be tolerated.”
Matt Martignoni ’21.5, a leader of Students for Justice in Palestine, criticized the planned vigil and the rhetoric on the posters.
“The event’s prohibition on anti-Zionism and anti-Palestinian hate is an oxymoron. Zionism, no matter how one feels about it, is predicated upon the erasure of Palestine. Enough said,” Martignoni wrote in an Instagram story.
“I refuse to accept an ‘All Lives Matter’ (white supremacist) narrative,” Martignoni wrote in the same story. “It makes utterly false equivalencies between the intensifying ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and resistance to colonization. I in no way say that to condone the death of Israelis, but rather what I take issue with is the rhetoric of this vigil.”
Shulman-Litwin explained the choice to bar anti-Zionism.
“I and a few other Jewish students hoped to organize this vigil to help everyone understand that it was necessary to mourn all lives lost and not just the lives of some,” Shulman-Litwin said. He explained that he and the organizers knew that they must “put something to tell Jews it is a safe space for them,” and to prevent the vigil from becoming dominated by a “free Palestine rhetoric.”
“What I want to emphasize is striving for Israeli and Jewish and Palestinian activism. It is not mutually exclusive,” he said. “As long as we acknowledge that, anyone who says Israel should be eradicated is wrong.”