Chloe Simone Valdary, who just started up the Allies of Israel student group at the University of New Orleans, has some very interesting ideas regarding how Israel can best be promoted on campus. Up until now, Israel has been facing an uphill battle on campuses across the United States, with groups like Students for Justice in Palestine on the offensive as pro-Israel student groups are frequently on the defensive. Yet Chloe thinks that there are better ways to confront the anti-Israel activists on campus. According to Chloe, “I think that if pro-Israel groups were more proactive rather than being solely responsive to the sort of allegations shot at Israel, we would be more successful because in this way, we can change the parameters of the debate.”
She continued, “I saw an interview with Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse and she explained it perfectly really. People in the pro-Israel camp need to be proactive and we also need to realize that there is no reason to defend Israel. There’s a difference between defending Israel and standing for Israel and it’s crucial that groups know this. Defending Israel would be holding Israel Week in response to Apartheid Week. Standing up for Israel would be holding Israel Week before Apartheid Week was even thought of. And I say this as someone who loves Israel Week. But just from a strategic point of view, the timing of events can change perspectives of people who know nothing about this topic in a big way.”
Chloe also has a plan for how anti-semitism and anti-Israel sentiment can be fought against more effectively among young Americans. She asserted, “I’m 19 and I understand how people my age think. We are obsessed with all things pop culture. We want to know who’s going to win American Idol. We want to know, what are the latest fashions? We want to be seen in the greatest “instagrammed” photos you can ever imagine. What is important to us is the image. Everything revolves around the image. It’s pretty superficial actually but its what, not only young people, but humans in general, are drawn to. And the image is key to changing the debate and changing popular opinion when it comes to Israel.”
Chloe explained that pro-Palestinian student groups utilize “images which are very visceral and very emotional and they affect the sensibilities of the viewer.” For example, when a pro-Palestinian student group creates a so-called “apartheid wall” in the middle of campus and tries to block students from going to class, this is a powerful image that sticks with students which is very difficult to counter unless you do something equally dramatic, such as having a mock qassam rocket drill. Yet, unfortunately, many Jewish student groups aren’t utilizing such imagery as much as the pro-Palestinian student groups are and this is a problem. Chloe explained that many young people believe that “if something looks cool, we presuppose that the cool thing must be cool, good, moral, etc., even though it could possibly represent the largest anti-semitic movement since the fall of Nazi Germany.”
Thus, for this reason, Chloe advocates utilizing imagery to its fullest and to attempt to make Israel advocacy accessible to young Americans via pop culture. Chloe started up the Nola Campaign to End Anti-Semitism, which is presently trying to raise 10 grand to do a music video that seeks to raise awareness about anti-semitism by highlighting the tragic plight of the Fogel family, among others. Eventually, she hopes to build an Israel advocacy empire consisting of a film division, a television division, a newspaper division and a college division. In the meantime, until Chloe receives the funding for these ambitions, she has excellent plans for more pro-Israel events at the University of New Orleans, such as hosting Asaf Romirowsky, who will utilize Hamas’s own materials in order to illustrate how anti-semitic they are.
In sum, Chloe believes that Israel needs to work harder on the image factor and to continue to maintain strong ties to the United States. However, she also noted, “Israel must continue to have the conviction that it has had since 1948. And this must be reflected not only in public relations but also in public policy, be it military, economically, or whatever. It must believe with all of its heart (and by this, I mean the people) that it has a right to exist and it must pursue this to no end. It must not apologize for standing up to those who want its destruction. It must not capitulate before its enemies. The Jew and the Gentile alike must stand up, once and for all, and elect, as the scripture says, to choose life.”
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By Rachel Avraham