Several hundred attendees attended a vigil for peace on Broad Street last Sunday evening in light of ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza. Local community leaders organised the gathering to share comforting words and observe a moment of silence. The gathering condemned violence from both sides of the conflict.
The vigil was attended by University Vice-Chancellor Irene Tracy, as well as representatives from the city and county, elected MPs, and faith leaders representing Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist communities. The crowd included councillors on Oxford City Council who resigned from the Labour party last week after Party leader Keir Starmer appeared to suggest that Israel has “the right” to withhold energy and water from Gaza.
Imam Monawar Hussain, who co-organised the event alongside the Bishop of Oxford Rt. Rev. Dr Steven Croft, told Cherwell that its purpose was to “get faith and community leaders together so we can have one voice that promotes understanding, love, and peace in our community.”
“People are looking for opportunities to come together in a way which stands for peace and doesn’t take one side or another,” Croft told Cherwell. “It’s been very helpful to the people who have to process so many different images on screens over the last few weeks to actually come together in-person.”
President of the Oxford Jewish Congregation, Martin Goodman, said in a statement: “We join this call for all in our county to come together to assert, in the face of the terrible events in Israel and Palestine, our shared determination to preserve the strong friendship between our communities in Oxfordshire which has been built up over so many years.”
An Oxford resident and member of the local Jewish community told Cherwell: “Our best hope for peace [is] nonviolence, not taking sides, and acknowledgement of each other’s suffering.”