Kingstonians seek peace in Gaza

Silent rally at City Hall in solidarity with Gazans drew hundreds protesting Operation Protective Edge

A man holds the flag of Palestine at a rally for Gaza.
A man holds the flag of Palestine at a rally for Gaza.
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A July 22 rally organized by Queen’s faculty members saw over 300 people stand outside City Hall in silent solidarity for Gaza.

The protestors carried signs and Palestinian flags. Some signs reiterated the death toll, which as of the protest stood at 600 Palestinians dead and 30 Israelis. Others criticized Stephen Harper for supporting Israel and its Operation Protective Edge. A cardboard sign gave the names of every Palestinian killed as of July 19, according to a compilation from Al Jazeera.

Samantha King, one of the organizers of the protest and a professor at the Queen’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, said they chose to hold a silent vigil out of respect.

“We thought it was the most respectful thing to do given the scale of the tragedy and the number of deaths,” she said.

She said people had to continue to pressure the Canadian government to “stop supporting Israel in its military assault” and to “acknowledge the genocide that’s occurring.”

She added that the organizers had been discussing making the rally a regular event.

“Certainly as long as the massacre lasts, but beyond that … there’s everyday violence that’s wrought on the Palestinian people and that has to stop,” she said.

King had posted on a Facebook event advertising the rally instructing people not to respond to any hecklers, of which there was at least one. An older man walked past and said, “If you feel so strongly, go over there and join them. Fucking terrorists.”

No one responded.

The silent crowd was a mixed group, which, according to King, included Jews, Muslims and Christians. There were students in attendance, as well as a Sir John A. Macdonald impersonator and families with young children.

Anticipating a large turnout, King had asked online that participants, after filling up the City Hall steps, form a single file line going down either side of the building. The line stretched down Ontario St. and around both corners.

The line included Howard Tzvi Adelman, the director of the Jewish Studies program at Queen’s.

He said he came to the protest because the violence in Gaza has no rationalization in the name of self-defence.

“The carnage in Gaza on the part of Israel against the Palestinians is just unbelievable,” he said.

The day of the protest was the 17th anniversary of Adelman’s making aliyah, or immigrating to Israel.

“We made aliyah to Israel with a whole bunch of hopes and what’s happening there, which my sons are witnessing it firsthand, is totally out of the vision that we had for the country,” he said.

“The amount of racism and hatred in the streets — I just can’t sit by while crowds are yelling ‘Death to the Arabs’.”

He said the situation was complex, and that ultimately nothing would happen until Hamas and Israel sat down together to discuss a ceasefire.

“I’m not a political scientist. I’m a Jew, an Israeli American, permanent resident of Canada, and I just think it’s something to say enough.”

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