Since the Hamas attack in Israel on Oct. 7 killed about 1,400 people, the Israeli Defense Force has killed about 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza and about 25,000 people have been injured.
Across the country, college students have been reacting to these events. On Wednesday Oct. 25, New Paltz Students For Palestine, or NPSFP, held a walking vigil for the people in Gaza.
The vigil started at 6 p.m. on Parker Quad. Students from New Paltz’s Muslim Student Association prayed followed by a speech from one of the organizers.
Student and organizer Maddison Garland-Tirado spoke about the purpose of the vigil. “We are sickened in the most literal sense of the word by the genocide being showcased to us on our phone screens,” Garland-Tirado said.
He then explained the strength that numbers have and the importance of this event. “The burden is on us to have unity, to show the courage inherent in telling the truth in an empire of lies. Today we show solidarity with Palestine. Because Palestine lives in our hearts,” he said.
“As long as lives that could be saved are being butchered, then none of us know freedom. Freedom is the prerequisite to peace and the ability to enjoy life itself. If Palestine is not free, no person can claim they are free.”
Garland-Tirado reminded attendees that this event is not a rally. “We are here to mourn, pay tribute and build unity,” he said.
Students and community members then walked in almost complete silence from Parker Quad to Old Main Quad. Some attendees wore the Keffiyeh, a traditional headscarf associated with Palestinian identity and the struggle for freedom. Others held up signs in support of Palestine.
Attendees formed a crescent surrounding the speakers on Old Main Quad and lit candles passed out by organizers. Organizer and student, Rae Ferrara expressed their feelings on another event on campus. On Oct. 11, the Chabad of New Paltz held a prayer for Israel in front of the Student Union Building.
“While we should assume the best of intentions, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the prayer was being extended to one group of people’s loss and not others,” Ferrara said. “I feel the need to say, as a Jew, that genocide is not a Jewish value.”
“Judaism teaches us that to save a life is to save an entire world, and likewise, to take a life is to take an entire world,” they said.
They then said The Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer to remember people that have passed away and bless them in English and in Hebrew.
Four poems including “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay and “To Our Land” by Mahmoud Darwish, were read by students.
The vigil ended with a Muslim prayer once read in English and once read in Arabic by Nawrah Zamir.
As the event ended, organizers passed out fliers for the Nov. 4 Free Palestine National March on Washington in which tens of thousands of people from across the country attended.