Those who support Israel need to be proactive, not reactive, with their activism. They truly need to take the initiative to reach out to the community, whether it is via social media, television, newspapers, lobbying governments, or by hosting lectures and rallies on college campuses. Chloe Valdary, as the founder of Allies of Israel at the University of New Orleans, has done just that with her “Rally to Declare Your Freedom.” At this rally, she compared the BDS Movement to the Nazis who boycotted Jewish businesses during the Shoah, before going on to note the anti-semitism that is prominently featured in Israel Apartheid Weeks.

She rhetorically asked her audience, “How far will you let it go?” Chloe Valdary asked her fellow students and community members how they would react if a group asserted that the “Holocaust never happened.” She asked, “What if they denied to your face that six million Jews were killed? Don’t think it could happen? It happened right here, at this institution. Last November, on the day called diversity day. Anti-semitism is rising. Jew hatred is spreading. The thing we said would never happen is happening. Today’s event is our collective affirmation that as Americans and Israelis, as Jews and gentiles, we will fight and we will stand for liberty.”

Around 100 University of New Orleans and Tulane students and community members attended the “Rally to Declare Your Freedom” day. Daniel Pipes, the executive director of Campus Watch and Middle East Forum, was the keynote speaker. He is one of the best known and respected scholars on the Middle East and radical Islam. In his speech, he spoke about the threats that Israel faces on a regular basis from groups like the BDS movement. Other speakers included Evan Sayet of the Heritage Foundation, WRNO talk show host Denny Schaeffer, Rabbi Yossi Nemes of Chabad, and Tulane University for Israel President Yoni Kaplan.

However, around 20 pro-Palestinian demonstrators also showed up to the event. The Palestine Solidarity Committee of New Orleans passed out fliers about “ending the occupation of Palestine” and about boycotting Sabra hummus at the Allies of Israel opening event. Members of the General Union of Palestinian Students at the University of New Orleans also staged a walk-out. Prior to the event, a member of the University of New Orleans Muslim Student Association was quoted in the University of New Orleans student newspaper as making an anti-Israel statement. Yet, none of this has deterred Chloe Valdary, who dismissed the protesters as people who walked in, held up a sign, and then left.

The University of New Orleans has a tiny Jewish community that consists of 75 students, out of a total student population of 13,000 people. There are no Jewish studies courses, no kosher food, and is no Hillel on the campus, yet the University of New Orleans does have a Muslim Student Association and General Union of Palestinian Students. There have also been many anti-Israel demonstrations in New Orleans, which has an active Palestine Solidarity Committee. Yet, thanks to Chloe Valdary, the few Jewish students who study at the University of New Orleans now have a pro-Israel voice in which to stand up for Israel. Due to her courage, for once, supporters of Israel have witnessed the Palestinian side being the ones to react to pro-Israel activism, verses the other way around, and this is refreshing.

To view Chloe Valdary’s speech in full, see below!

By Rachel Avraham