Rally in downtown Lexington calls for end to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

tcrumbie@herald-leader.comJuly 23, 2014 

Flags, signs and about 150 people at the Fayette Circuit Courthouse plaza on Wednesday called for peace in a conflict several thousand miles away.

The Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice held a rally for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians.

Fighting began in early July after the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers. Hostilities have included rocket fire between Israel and Palestinians and an Israeli ground offensive into Gaza. More than 700 Palestinians and 34 Israelis have been killed since the fighting began.

The assembly was held to call for both sides to reach a truce, but it appeared that many of the participants felt Israel was to blame. During the rally, a passerby yelled "Get rid of Hamas," which caused some of the crowd to react negatively. "Go educate yourself," was one of the responses.

As the crowd repeated chants including "The people united will never be divided" to "We want freedom, we want peace all across the Middle East," speakers echoed their feelings. Among them was Dr. Jamil Farooqui, a Lexington physician. Farooqui said it did not matter if the conflict was called a genocide or war, because it causes death and destruction either way. "Death and destruction always leaves a scar and depression when it goes away," he said.

Richard Mitchell, a board member for the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, said because the conflict has been going off-and-on for decades, negotiating peace is not easy.

"There's a lot of water under the bridge," Mitchell said.

The most recent conflict has affected the United States, despite the distance. The Federal Aviation Administration suspended flights to Ben Gurion Airport, Israel's international airport, on Tuesday. The ban, originally 24 hours, was extended another 24 hours on Wednesday afternoon.

The rally concluded with a prayer circle and a moment of silence.

Janet Tucker, who helped organize the rally, said it was important for everyone to know about the situation.

"It's just horrifying and sad and heartbreaking," Tucker said. "There's just no other way to put it."

Trey Crumbie: (859) 231-1687. Twitter: @TreyCrumbieHL

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