With the help of many friends, on Sunday, March 30, that African American Christian Zionist college student the pro-Israel world has been marveling over for more than a year, Chloé Simone Valdary, pulled off another huge student-led pro-Israel event in New Orleans.
Declare Your Freedom 2.0 was held at Tulane University, with over 400 in attendance. Last year, Valdary organized the first DYF, and held it at her school, the University of New Orleans.
The purpose of DYF, Valdary told The Jewish Press, was “to continue to say without compunction or regret that we are Zionists, and also to celebrate Zionism – the civil rights movement of the Jewish people.”
Valdary is a dynamo, but she also had lots of help from fellow Zionists Maor Shapira, Becca Leifer and Nicki Etseckson, all three of whom are students at Tulane.
The four Zionist college students put together a program which included speakers such as Brooke Goldstein, director of The Lawfare Project; Sudanese human rights activist Simon Deng; Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Syrian American, founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy and CAMERA on campus’s Samantha Rose Mandeles and Alan Mendoza, the executive director of the Henry Jackson Society.
The day-long event interspersed music and serious speakers. The music included a beautiful jazz rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah performed by Assaf Kehati. Other performers were Los Rakas, Pep Love, Zion I, Shi 360 and the Ori Naftaly Band.
As a victim of the true horrors of genocide in his native Sudan where he was a child slave, Deng spoke powerfully about the grotesque irony of people who claim to be human rights activists and focus their ire on Israel, yet completely ignore real genocide in places like the Sudan.
Jasser spoke about the need for reform in the Muslim world, while Mendoza also addressed the hypocrisy of groups like Students for Justice in Palestine who pay not attention to the complete deprivation of civil and human rights for so many in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
CAMERA on Campus coordinator Samantha Rose Mandeles talked about the great work CAMERA does with pro-Israel students on campuses all across the country. In particular, Mandeles was full of praise for the DYF festival in carrying on the torch for freedom.
The student organizations which helped make DYF 2.0 happen were Allies of Israel (Valdary’s group), Tulane United for Israel and McNeese State’s Israel Alliance.
Sponsors of Declare Your Freedom 2.0 included CAMERA, the Zionist Organization of America, Standwithus, The Israel-American Council and the Leadership Institute.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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