Dillard president among scheduled speakers at March for Israel in DC

Dillard University President Rochelle Ford, right, spoke at the American Jewish Press Association convention in New Orleans this past July.

From SJL and JNS reports

Louisiana will be well represented on the speaker stage at the March for Israel in Washington on Nov. 14.

The rally, which is expected to draw tens of thousands from across the country, will begin at noon Central and will be livestreamed. The rally will not only be a show of support for Israel during the current war, it will be about the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, and a stand against the massive increase in antisemitic incidents that have taken place worldwide since the conflict began.

Newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana will be among the Congressional speakers. The bipartisan lineup includes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). The co-chairs of the bipartisan task force on combating antisemitism will also speak.

After Johnson was elected speaker, his first action was to push a bill providing military assistance funding for Israel.

“Voices of Allies” will include Rochelle Ford, the president of Dillard University, a Historically Black College in New Orleans. Also expected to speak are Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, and Anila Ali, a Pakistani Muslim American and women’s rights activist.

“During Israel’s darkest hour, millions of Christian Zionists across the country want to ensure that Israel, and her people, know they are not alone. CUFI has members and leaders flying into our nation’s capital from as far away as Alaska, Arizona and Alabama to ensure our elected officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue understand that America’s Christians and Jews stand together, and we stand with Israel,” Hagee told Jewish Insider.

In January, Ford announced the relaunch of the Dillard University National Center for Black-Jewish Relations, which had been established in the 1980s but had been dormant for two decades.

Shortly after the Hamas massacre, Ford joined several other university presidents for a statement, “We Stand Together With Israel Against Hamas,” a call for “moral clarity” that called the fight against Hamas “a fight against evil.”

The statement said they “stand with Israel, with the Palestinians who suffer under Hamas’s cruel rule in Gaza, and with all people of moral conscience.”

In her own statement on Oct. 11, she called the Hamas attacks “unadulterated evil being unleashed on the world.” She also expressed concern for Palestinians in Gaza who are “blamed for the terrorist acts by the Hamas extremists, who also oppress Palestinians in Gaza, doing more harm to the struggle for freedom and autonomy.”

A White House official told JNS that Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, will speak at the rally, representing the Biden administration.

Also on the speaker list are actress Debra Messing; political commentator Van Jones; human-rights activist Natan Sharansky; and family members of American hostages who were abducted on Oct. 7.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS that the need to identify with Israel is as strong today as it was when he helped organize the National Rally in Solidarity with Israel in the wake of Passover suicide bombing by Hamas in 2002.

“It’s very important that this is seen as Jewish manifestation but also an American manifestation—not only in support for Israel and the release of the hostages, and against antisemitism, but also an understanding that the world changed after Oct. 7,” he said. “The unity in our community is almost unprecedented.”