Jewish students rally in Market Square amidst ongoing violence in the Middle East

October 19, 2023

By Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News

As tensions remain at an all time high in Israel and Gaza, communities in Kingston and around the world have been left feeling helpless and mourning.

In Kingston, and especially at Queen's, the Jewish community has come together in the wake of a brutal attack by Hamas on October 7.

On Tuesday, students organized a demonstration in Springer Market Square, gathering for speeches and songs while decrying terrorism.

Director of Queen's Hillel, Yos Tarshish, spoke to the crowd on Tuesday afternoon and denounced Hamas' initial October 7 attack, unequivocally calling it terrorism.

Tarshish decried the idea that the attack was Palestinian resistance, saying there's never an excuse for the loss of innocent lives.

"Terrorism is always wrong, always," Tarshish said.

"It is never okay to hurt the innocent, it is never okay to kill civilians... this is not resistance, we can never allow this to be considered resistance!"

The rally was organized by students primarily as an opportunity to come together and lean on one another as a community.

Eden Cohen-Kleinstein, a Queen's student and one of the organizers on Tuesday, said that one positive that has come out of the tragedy and trauma is that Jewish people at Queen's and in the greater Kingston area have seen just how much of a community there really is.

"Before this I did not realize how big of a Jewish community there was here in Kingston, it's been honestly amazing to see everybody come together and be there for one another," Cohen-Kleinstein said.

"I'm so glad that I got to meet so many new Jewish people within the community and that we can keep this going hopefully and always continue to be there for one another."

Cohen-Kleinstein said the ongoing tension, including 199 Israeli citizens still held hostage, has made it very difficult to normally operate on a day to day basis.

She said Queen's has been supportive in light of that, and that by sticking together the community will be alright.

"It makes it really difficult to focus," Cohen-Kleinstein said.

"Thankfully Queen's has been very accommodating with extensions and deferring midterms and it's made it a little easier on the load... we'll get through it."

The rally lasted for about an hour, and more events for the Jewish community are continuing throughout the week.