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Israeli-Hamas conflict prompts gatherings, protests in Lexington

Josh James
/
WUKY

More than 200 people gathered in Lexington’s Courthouse Plaza to voice support for Palestinians as the Israeli retaliation continues to claim lives and displace residents in Gaza. The rally came days after a ceremony bringing together members of Lexington's Jewish community.

Donning a white hijab, a young woman – who wished not to be named – told a steadily growing audience Tuesday night that she hopes those listening will pay attention to what’s happening to Gaza and foster more understanding.

"Palestinians should not have to prove their humanity for others to see it," she said to applause, later adding that, "this is not what we stand for. Violence is not the answer. Neither is complacency."

Members of the crowd were cloaked in Palestinian flags. Signs read “Free Palestine,” “Boycott Israel,” and described the actions in Gaza as “genocide.” Some speakers condemned US aid to Israel and blamed colonialism for the attacks, while others sought to make clear distinctions between Jews and the Israeli government.

Chants ranged from broader calls for liberation — "Free, free Palestine!" — to the more incendiary — "Stop the hate. Israel is a racist state!"

The rally follows a somber gathering of about 200 members of Lexington’s Jewish community at Temple Adath Israel on Sunday. At that event, Mindy Haas, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass, said her community cannot afford to be weighed down by grief.

"As we gather, mourn, cry, pray, and remember, let us also affirm that we will not be silent," she said.

The gatherings show just how deeply the violence overseas has resonated, in the hearts and minds of Lexingtonians of many traditions.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.