On Sunday, CAMERA held its annual dinner in New York City, in which hundreds of supporters attended from across the country, and honored Khaled Abu Toameh, a distinguished Israeli-Arab journalist, lecturer, and documentary filmmaker. Congratulations to Ellie Rudee on receiving the David Bar-Illan Award for Outstanding Student Leadership and Yoni Kaplan on receiving the David Bar-Illan Award for Campus Activism. Below are their beautiful acceptance speeches at the dinner:
Local CAMERA students at our annual dinner
Local CAMERA students at our annual dinner
Yoni Kaplan:

Dear friends of Israel. I am honored to be here today to accept this award on behalf of TUFI,  Yoni Kaplan is talking NO hi SamTulane University for Israel. I am honored to have had CAMERA’s campus activist project enable TUFI’s growth at Tulane. Most of all, I am honored to have the opportunity to be here and on behalf of my organization, and so many others on college campuses across the continent who are empowered by CAMERA. When I arrived at Tulane, the Israel presence on campus was nearly nonexistent. I started TUFI in an effort to fill that void and establish a vibrant and active pro-Israel community at Tulane. With CAMERA’s help, TUFI has grown from an initial board of 5 to a listserve that reaches over 300 students. With CAMERA’s help, we have brought high profile speakers to share their diverse perspectives about Israel to Tulane.

Speakers such as Ishmail Khaldi, the first Bedouin vice consul of Israel, Gil Hoffman, the Jerusalm post’s chief political correspondent, and many others.  With CAMERA’s help, this past week marked Tulane’s third annual Israel Week. From programming with Tulane Democrats and Republicans to bring political speakers, to building solar oven smores with Tau Beta Pi Engineering honors fraternity to explore science projects in Israel, TUFI’s programming spans a diverse range of content and interests reflective of the Tulane student body’s interests. For the art patrons out there, we partnered with Tulane’s art society to put on Israel Art Solidarity night in support of Israelis affected by last fall’s operation pillar of defense. Each of these events, and many more, were made possible by CAMERA’s support.

TUFI’s future only looks brighter from here. I received a letter from Tulane admissions that 125 incoming freshman had expressed interest in TUFI without having had a single day of class at Tulane. I hope that the small cross section of TUFI’s activities I have presented to you coupled with the promise of young leadership has convinced you, as I have been convinced, that TUFI has succeeded in becoming that vibrant and active pro-Israel community at Tulane. I would like to thank CAMERA for making all of TUFI’s programming possible. I would like to thank Sam and Aviva for their tireless patience and professionalism. Most of all I’d like to thank all of you, honored friends, here tonight. You enable our mission and you have our gratitude. Good night.

Ellie Rudee: 

It is with great gratitude that I thank CAMERA for making it possible for me to travel all the way from my semester in Israel to accept the David Bar-Illan award this evening. Tonight, I must makeellie at dinner two confessions. First, being recognized as an individual for my leadership is a simplification of what it takes to be a pro-Israel advocate on campus. Success requires a leader, but even more vital is a network of advocates who together make everything possible. CAMERA has provided me with training, CCAP funding, writing skills, and supportive campus personnel. My fellow leaders at Claremont Students for Israel (CSI) have also been an integral part of our success. The “Less Hamas More Hummus” campaign, which is now CAMERA’s national campaign, was quite the group effort. At the event, we showed and discussed videos of Hamas propaganda and instead of a “boycott” of Israeli goods, we had a “buycott,” which entailed purchasing and eating all the Sabra Hummus we could find. We designed a tee shirt that says “Less Hamas More Hummus” with a picture of the Zohan on the front, free for attendees who wrote two pro-Israel letters to their senators. At our event, we had more than 60 attendees and got over 100 letters. For CSI’s first big event, it was extremely successful and couldn’t have happened without everyone’s dedication.

My other confession to make this evening is that it feels strange to be rewarded for something that seems so natural to me. Although I am not Israeli, I feel from the bottom of my heart that Israel is my home. Like many people, I have a natural drive to defend my home, so I often reflect about my role in defending the State of Israel. I often think about where I can be the most helpful to Israel—in the IDF or on an American campus. As a 21-year-old American woman, I believe that the place where I am most needed is on campus, so campus advocacy feels like my duty in lieu of joining the IDF. At times we have to go into battle too . . .of a different kind.

Tonight I would like to thank my fellow campus leaders who are part of the group effort, CAMERA, and all the donors whose support makes everything possible. And last, I would especially like to thank Sam and Aviva who have supported me throughout my journey to where I am today. Todah rabah.

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