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Former African slave leads solidarity march, meets with hostage families in Israel

“During the terrorist assault on my people in southern Sudan, in which millions of black Africans were slaughtered and enslaved by jihadists, only one nation—the Jewish State of Israel—helped us, with arms, tactical and military support,” Simon Deng said.

A South Sudanese expression of solidarity with Israel in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Credit: Courtesy.
A South Sudanese expression of solidarity with Israel in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Credit: Courtesy.

Simon Deng, an escaped slave from South Sudan, flew to Israel on Dec. 17 to express the solidarity of the South Sudanese and many Africans with the Jewish state.

“During the terrorist assault on my people in southern Sudan, in which millions of black Africans were slaughtered and enslaved by jihadists, only one nation—the Jewish State of Israel—helped us—with arms, tactical and military support,” Deng said. “This was done secretly at the time, but has become public more recently.”

“In the end, with this help from Israel,” Deng continued, “along with help from Jewish abolitionists in America who helped liberate thousands of black slaves in Sudan, South Sudan was liberated and became the world’s newest country.”

“I, on my own behalf and that of many Africans, am coming to Israel to express my solidarity with the Jewish people of Israel, who suffered on Oct. 7 an assault that is almost exactly what happened to Africans in Sudan, has happened to African villages for centuries, and is happening now by Boko Haram in Nigeria and by jihadists in Darfur, Western Sudan.”

In fact, Deng said, the Oct. 7 pogrom in Israel eerily resembles the Arab onslaughts against black Africans. Unlike the Nazis, who sought to hide their mass murder and depersonalize the killing through mechanized systems, the very up-close-and-personal nature of Hamas’s actions more closely resembles what jihadists have been doing to Africans since the seventh century. “Jihadists shot our men, raped and tortured our women and children, and took them into captivity.”

Deng flew to Tel Aviv, where he gathered with other South Sudanese living in Israel and met with families of victims of the Oct. 7 massacre. He marched from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem twice in a show of African support for Israel and the Jewish people. He also met with Natan Sharansky while in Jerusalem.

Now an internationally known humanitarian activist, Deng was kidnapped in a bloody slave raid on his Christian southern Sudanese village at the age of 9, during which he witnessed children mowed down by machine guns and countless others burned alive in their huts. His captors then gave him as a “gift” to an Arab family in the north. He spent several years as the family’s property, often fetching heavy containers of water from the Nile River. He was beaten regularly, sometimes by Arab children. After he managed to escape, he fled to Egypt and joined the black Sudanese refugee community in Cairo. While in Egypt, he faced constant racial discrimination and abuse from Arabs, including fellow members of his professional swimming team.

He was highly active in the campaign to free black Sudanese slaves beginning in the early 1990s, and in subsequent years has carried out several Walks for Freedom (see: https://youtu.be/BQzpJ71P5bg) to raise awareness of the murder and enslavement of blacks by Arabs in Sudan. As a leader in this campaign, he met with President George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton and many members of Congress.

Deng was accompanied by Dr. Charles Jacobs, president of the American Anti-Slavery Group based in Boston.

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