Letter to the editor: Human rights must apply to all

This letter is from three women in Addison County who are all good friends, and who work together on a number of campaigns to promote equity and anti-racism in Vermont. Two of us are Jewish and one of us has many Jewish family members.

Last week we baked up an assortment of treats, sweet and savory, and delivered them to the Middlebury College students who organize the group Justice for Palestine on campus. We wanted to make a gesture of support to these students, who have recently faced harassment on campus for their advocacy for Palestinian Human Rights.

As activists in the community who believe in collective liberation, we feel it’s especially important to affirm the rights of students to organize. So many of the human rights we cherish—disability rights, LGBTQIA rights, civil rights—all of these are ongoing struggles. But the progress that we have made has been because people, often young people like high school and college students, have stood up and voiced unpopular opinions. Their moral compass is strong, and they know that speaking up in solidarity with marginalized people is the right thing to do.

We call on the administration of Middlebury College to take a stand against the bullying of the Justice for Palestine students on campus. It is deeply disturbing to us that students who organize for Palestinian human rights are being labeled as anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism (like Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, anti Asian racism, and hate directed at Arab people) is evil—and we must confront it and dismantle it. But we also need to confront and dismantle our own racism, that lets us look away when our Palestinian siblings are suffering.

As Jews, we believe in Tikkun Olam, which means to heal or repair the world. We believe there isn’t safety for Jews in the world until there is also safety for Palestinian people. We reject the notion that the struggle for Palestinian freedom somehow goes against Jewish people’s rights to be safe from harm. Everyone deserves to be safe! Just as when we say “Black Lives Matter,” it doesn’t mean other people DON’T matter, standing up for Palestinian human rights, dignity and sovereignty is in no way anti-Semitic. Let us work together for our collective liberation. None of us are free until ALL of us are free.

Joanna Colwell

East Middlebury,

Julie Conason


Caitlin Gildrien


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Addison County Independent