At 8PM on Sunday night, Wesleyan students from across the political spectrum congregated for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives due to the violence in the region over the summer.
“I thought this was an amazing event,” said Isabel Alter ’17. “I am really glad we didn’t discuss politics.”
Students gathered in a circle with candles in hand. The organizers of the event distributed to each attendee a segment of a list of names of those lost. When the first candle was lit, students began to simultaneously recite the names on their list. Once the names were read, a moment of silence was respected.
“I think that we’re at a very politically potent moment for the Israeli Palestinian conflict,” said Rebecca Casper-Johnson ’15. “As students who are engaged with the issue if we can start the year remembering that any loss of life no matter the nationality is tragic than we can more forward in a way that is politically productive and morally just.”
That sentiment was shared by many attendees of the event. Students said they were relieved to find a space to remember and reflect. Many attendees had deeply personal connections to the lives lost.
“It was simple and mournful. As I think a vigil should be,” Harry Russell ’16 said. “We’ll have a lot more opportunities to talk about the reasons for the war. Today was commemorative for all the lives lost.”
“I am very proud of our community for peacefully demonstrating their grief and being respectful of each other,” said Deren Ertas ’16, noting that the event came within days of the latest casualty from the war.
“I think it was—I don’t want to necessarily use the word success—but I think it’s important that so many people came out to acknowledge the magnitude of the violence that was inflicted on the people in Gaza,” said JJ Mitchell ’15. “Thousands of people were killed and I hope that this event signals the fact that students will no longer be complicit in that violence.”
“I thought it was really beautiful that people with different perspectives could get together and acknowledge the horrific events that happened this summer,” said Emily Greenspan ’16. “I think it was nice to do this at the beginning of the semester and in the coming weeks think about how we can take action to prevent these tragedies from happening again.”
“I think it’s important to note the violence in Gaza, but I think it’s also important to remember the interpersonal violence in Israel and the West Bank,” Greenspan continued. “Both Anti-Arab racism and Anti-Semitism have only grown worse over the summer.”