Students at Middlebury College in Vermont Set Up Checkpoint

Jay Saper
May 21, 2013
Waging Non-violence
“We will not rest, until you divest.”

Checkpoint on Campus, Nation of Change,

On May 15, students at Middlebury College in Vermont staged a checkpoint outside their dining hall during the busiest meal of the year to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which led to the establishment of the state of Israel.

As the Middlebury divestment campaign from arms and fossil fuels gains national attention, a coalition that included Palestinian, Israeli and American Jewish students staged the act of political theater in solidarity with Nakba Day demonstrations around the globe as a call to add apartheid to the students’ divestment demands.

Israel receives over $3 billion a year in military aid from the United States with stipulations on how that money is to be spent. As a consequence, nearly all weapons used by the Israeli military to support the occupation are produced by U.S. arms manufacturers, in which Middlebury has $6 million invested.

The objective of the checkpoint was to urge the college to honor the call by Palestinian civil society for those who are invested in corporations that profit from the occupation to stop their complicity in the oppression of the Palestinian people and fulfill their “moral responsibility to fight injustice” by divesting from Israeli apartheid.

At a midnight breakfast event during finals week, students were greeted in the dark with barricades blocking the entrance to the dining hall and flashlights from full uniformed soldiers asking for identification cards.

Alex Jackman, a junior from New York City, described the checkpoint as “one of the coolest pieces of theater I have seen on Middlebury’s campus. Performed during the time when all students are wrapped up in stress about exams and schoolwork, the piece served as a reminder that there are greater battles to fight beyond our campus.”