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The content of her character: Chloe Valdary responds to Richard Silverstein


On Saturday we commented on a racist Facebook update and Tweet by “liberal” Jewish blogger Richard Silverstein, which he posted in response to his apparent ‘outrage’ at a pro-Israel op-ed written by an African-American woman named Chloe Valdary.

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Chloe Valdary

Today in Times of Israel, Valdary published a new op-ed addressing Silverstein’s attack, and the broader issue of racism and anti-Zionism.

Here are some excerpts:

On February 22, a gentleman by the name of Richard Silverstein took considerable issue with an article I wrote in the The Times of Israel about the contentions of one Judith Butler, professor at the University of California, Berkley. I find Butler’s analysis regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict lamentably disagreeable.

Silverstein did not point out any possible faulty premises in my column. He did not question the evidence I presented. He did not find I was lacking in my analysis. Instead, to illustrate his (ahem) intellectual prowess, he shared a Facebook status linking to my column and in his commentary, wrote: “They finally did it: found a Negro Zionist: Uncle Tom is dancin’ for joy!

His intention is obvious: I am an African-American, and Silverstein believes that all African-Americans are monolithic. Indeed, he believes that because of my skin color, I must think, act, and behave in the certain way — a manner in which he perceives black people to be. Like the old white masters in the antebellum American South, Silverstein believes that he and his ilk alone can be the bearers of opinions which must be held by African-Americans. To think for oneself, to formulate an opinion independent of his consent — well now, this is unacceptable. The consequence is a verbal lashing on social media; an attack on my character because of my skin color, and because, I am, as he puts it, “a Negro,” who does not feel the need to make her analysis contingent upon his approbation.

Moreover, I am a Zionist. I am unabashedly pro-Israel, and a proponent of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. Silverstein is not a Zionist, and because I disagree with him —  like the old slave masters who believed that their view of the world was superior to and should be foisted upon the negro slaves — he contends that I am an “Uncle Tom” (a derogatory term meaning “house slave,” or one who is subservient and servile to white masters.).

I am certain that Silverstein does not comprehend the irony. After all, white supremacists tend to possess an astounding propensity for cognitive dissonance. It isn’t evident to Silverstein that to assert that a human being must, by virtue of her skin color, behave in a certain manner, is itself prejudicial and bigoted. Silverstein is judging me on the color of my skin, not on the content of my character, or rather, the content of my treatise.

Silverstein [a ‘Comment is Free’ contributor] inverts terms, making them devoid of any meaning, all the while having the temerity to believe his musings are erudite, when in point of fact they are ludicrous, and contributory to the cause of mass homicide. That such obscene characters are given license to spew nonsense in prominent newspapers like The Guardian, I find lamentable

You can read the rest of her essay, titled ‘In Defense of Liberty’, here.

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72 replies »

  1. What a masterpiece of an answer. Valdary has shown that she’s not only an inteligent human being but superior to likes of Silverstein. Kol hakavod

    • I am new to twitter but i responded to a Silverstein comment on @MaxBlumenthal this weekend. Silverstein responded and between the two of us we exchanged about 200 tweets, at least.

      Basically, using the buzzwords of the anti-Israel crowd like apartheid and ethnic cleansing, Silverstein puts out smears against Israel and Zionists. If you challenge him with facts, he first attempts to mischaracterize what you said and then he resorts to calling you names like hasbarist. Finally, he threatens to “block” you.

      Twitter is perfect for him because he does not have to defend his positions. In the end, he did not block but did not respond to my tweets. For example, when I claimed that there were much higher casualites among the Jewish population than the Arab one in 1948 he replied because 1 million (a wrong figure he kept insisting on ) Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and did not fight. I responded by stating that they were not prepared to invest blood and treasure but had well equipped armies fighting on their behalf. I noted the 2500 soldiers pitted against 130, almost all civilians, at Yad Mordechai, as evidence of his false representation of a powerful Israeli army against a Palestinian civilian population. He did not answer.

      This was the pattern for my response to all of his allegations. I met his false facts with facts and he ignored me.

      I don’t understand how a hack like him, who does not appear to really have any knowledge, gets quoted anywhere.

      It took nothing to shred his arguments.

      He does not appear to have any contacts in the Palestinian world and I don’t think he has actually been in Israeel since 1980.

      But he does have moles in Israeli security which is what keeps him relevant. He recently outed a former Mossad agent who is threatening to sue.

      Silverstein is a coward, a bully and very lazy. His friend Max Blumenthal is the same. But with a much richer father.

    • Barry you are unfair to compare Silverstein to kapos. Most kapos were average persons thrown into extraordinary circumstances lacking the extra strong character necessary to avoid the temptation of possible survival, one more piece of rotten bread, one more day to live. Silverstein is different, he is volunteering without any existential pressure. He is much worse than a kapo.

      • peter, thank you for that. That’s my reaction every time I see someone throwing “Kapo” around as an insult.

  2. So Silverstein, the darling of the Guardian commentariat, turns out to be racist towards black people. This explains quite a lot about his anti-Israel rantings. After all, many Israelis are dark-skinned.

  3. just for balance here is part of what silverstein actually wrote
    Valdary is the Ayan Hirsi Ali of the American Jewish right. She’s a convenient foil that the Israel Lobby can use to rebut the raging popularity of BDS and other human rights activism among minority students on U.S. college campuses. She wraps herself in the mantle of Old School civil rights giants like Martin Luther King, who endorsed Israel before the 1967 war as a beacon of democracy. Certainly, if King were alive today he wouldn’t be caught dead holding the views he held fifty years ago. But these hoary old sentiments are convenient for Valdary to hang her pro-Israel hat on.

    For this reason, in a tweet last night I wrote that Valdary was a “Negro” who was acting like an “Uncle Tom” in betraying progressive values regarding Israel. The entire far-right Twittersphere erupted in fireworks of righteous indignation. Pro-Israel tweeps who’ve never said or written a word about civil rights or social justice for American minorities were heaving with righteous indignation. They refuse to understand that there’s nothing racist about those two terms. On the contrary, Uncle Tom was a literary character created by abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe to represent African-Americans who betrayed their own through collaboration with the white master. Similarly, “Negro” was meant to convey how much of a betrayal Valdary’s views are towards a real civil right and social justice agent.

    • Speaking about balance, I am impressed with your inability to actually discuss the subject matter of Silverstein using racial epithets to attack an American college student.

      Stay irrelevant.

    • “Valdary is the Ayan Hirsi Ali of the American Jewish right. She’s a convenient foil that the Israel Lobby can use”

      “Noam,”
      Many thanks. I wanted to point out that Silverstein’s berating of Ms. Valdary for asserting her independence from his “progressive” plantation was not just racist against her, but also a case of his own preference to employ classic anti-Semitic slurs, (in the cause of “repairing the world,” of course!). Thank you again, for helping me make that point.

      • Confirmation bias you don’t have to thank me for your mental error your all doin it here and for many years no doubt

    • Noam, that’s sweet, you went to all that trouble to prove to us that you are not unhinged, because your definition of ‘balanced’ is to agree with an offensive bigot like Silverstein, so bloated by his own self-importance that you can relate to him perfectly.

    • I’ll let Valdary answer you:
      I am an African-American, and Silverstein believes that all African-Americans are monolithic. Indeed, he believes that because of my skin color, I must think, act, and behave in the certain way — a manner in which he perceives black people to be. Like the old white masters in the antebellum American South, Silverstein believes that he and his ilk alone can be the bearers of opinions which must be held by African-Americans. To think for oneself, to formulate an opinion independent of his consent — well now, this is unacceptable.

    • Noam:

      “For this reason, in a tweet last night I wrote that Valdary was a “Negro” who was acting like an “Uncle Tom””

      Oh dear. So misunderstood you are.
      Would you rather the Negro you speak about go back to the cotton fields and stay out of the houses all together?

      “Similarly, “Negro” was meant to convey how much of a betrayal Valdary’s views are towards a real civil right and social justice agent.”

      Oh, she betray social values by not wishing for more Jewish blood.
      Here’s an idea Richard (sorry, meant to say Noam) why don’t you volunteer to be the first to go?
      I’m sure PIJ will be happy to start with you.

    • Yes, he certainly was. I hate to even slightly agree with Silverstein or “Noam”, but his views in the 1960s, while important, cannot be reflective of what his views would have been today.

      Many people (in fact, I would venture to say pretty much everyone on the planet save those coerced or forbidden from exploring ideas) changes and refines their opinions over a period of 50 years or so, and there is nothing to say that MLK would not have changed, or refined, his views on Israel (or on any other topic for that matter) had he lived. Of course, there is nothing to say that he WOULD have changed his mind either, so to speculate one way or the other (as Noam quotes Silverstein as doing) is entirely pointless.

      That being said, the tactic Silverstein displays, of accusing any person of colour who argues Israel’s case as being merely a shill is a prime example of the racism of low expectations. Clearly, he cannot conceive of a black person intelligently balancing the arguments and coming to their own viewpoint (which happens to disagree with his own).

        • Bollocks. My post was entirely objective. I said that there is no evidence to suggest MLK would have changed his views EITHER way. Is that not so?

          And what I said about Silverstein’s views of Valdary is merely an interpretation (admittedly one that I find it hard to dispute) of his motives. Nothing to do with “conformation bias” at all.

          Perhaps you ought to look up the meaning of the term, or preferably just stop spouting high-fallutin sounding psychobabble in meaningless contexts just to try to make you sound educated or intelligent.

  4. I also find it interesting that Silverstein views both Valdary and Hirsi Ali as mere “foils” that are “used” by the nefarious “right-wing Jews” and not as strong, intelligent, independent-minded women who came to their own conclusions.

    No, they’re women of color (and I think he’s at least as sexist as he is racist), therefore when they “step off the reservation” it must be because they are simple-minded black females who’ve been manipulated by the tricksy Jews.

    • but she is in a minority , there is no consensus here is there , that is what makes her special to you all, her novelty value. you need to work alot harder to change the dominant view of Israels politics but you can only do that by changing the political landscape which i admit you could not do even if you wanted

      • What makes her special is her “novelty” value? Where do you get that from? Times of Israel did not comment on her colour. Her organizational position is not based on her colour. Richard Silverstein raised the issue.

        You are as insulting to her as he is. Where is this racism coming from?

      • An anti-Semite like you and a racist bigot like Silverstein ignore the rights of minorities when it suits, ´cause universalism is suppression, according to the postcolonial/postmodern/poststructuralist idiots. The call for universal rights for humankind is reduced to a strategic concept, a tactic for the media.
        Yeah, these bigots who permanently call for human and minority rights, presenting themselves as the epitome of humanity to the public they are pure anti-Semits disguised as activists for the good against the old “demon/devil” secularised as “Jew”.

        • Can you remember old dub ya and the ethnic outreach program run by East European nazis,anti Semites, yes real ones. The Republican Party working with real nazis. The new republic confronted this by saying this is just ” antique and anemic” anti semitism, and then said the real anti semitism to be worried about is the Democratic Party filled with ” Jew haters” turns out the East European nazis were actually pro Israel so it did not matter if they denied the holocaust. What a great principal what a government wow!!

      • Noam ‘she a minority’

        More porochial snobbery from Noam. Go to Nigeria and ask the Christians there what they think of Israel, and you’ll end up believing that the biggest population in Africa are all a bunch of ‘negro uncle toms’. More stunning sanctimonious ignorance from a bigot who can’t relate to anyone beyond his middle-class white friends.

      • Yeah, I hate to burst your bubble, but the only way you can define her as a (numerical) minority is to pretend you have the figures to back up your argument. Since you don’t, would you mind finding a subject you don’t sound like a complete ass and discussing it (I’m politely assuming such a subject exists)?

        • Please respond to the new republics statement that holocaust deniers “antique and anemic” anti semitism is basically ok because these nazis are pro Israel. That’s the point it’s your policies stupid, anyone who disagrees with the policies of the kingdom of Israel, wow the master race is really here, is anti Semitic. Change the bleeding record.

    • Amazingly he doesn’t know how much we owe Daniel Kahneman for various understanding into those biases and mistakes human make every single day.

      Maybe he should boycott this altogether… lol
      After all Noam wouldn’t want us focusing on hia very obvious biases…

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Kahneman

      I guess Noam must be very upset with the SS soldier that mistook little Daniel for not being Jewish… and made him pursue Psychology.

      Kahneman has written of his experience in Nazi-occupied France, explaining in part why he entered the field of psychology:

      “It must have been late 1941 or early 1942. Jews were required to wear the Star of David and to obey a 6 p.m. curfew. I had gone to play with a Christian friend and had stayed too late. I turned my brown sweater inside out to walk the few blocks home. As I was walking down an empty street, I saw a German soldier approaching. He was wearing the black uniform that I had been told to fear more than others – the one worn by specially recruited SS soldiers. As I came closer to him, trying to walk fast, I noticed that he was looking at me intently. Then he beckoned me over, picked me up, and hugged me. I was terrified that he would notice the star inside my sweater. He was speaking to me with great emotion, in German. When he put me down, he opened his wallet, showed me a picture of a boy, and gave me some money. I went home more certain than ever that my mother was right: people were endlessly complicated and interesting.” (Kahneman, 2003, p. 417)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Kahneman

  5. I want my ancestral home in somebody else’s house what a concept racist to the core. If the blacks own the house, it is still an ancestral home for some Europeans.

  6. a little more balance from silverstein about your right on Chloe
    Yesterday, I noted that a young African-American Hagee-style Christian Zionist, Chloe Valdary, took up the cudgels against Butler on Israel’s behalf in the pages of the Seth Klarfeld-funded Times of Israel (TOI). There she began by calling this distinguished academic and Jewish activist a “vile anti-Semite.” Apparently, Valdary isn’t aware that given our history, Jews are a bit sensitive about non-Jews determining for us who’s a good or bad Jew. I as a Jew much prefer to make those decisions myself, rather than be spoonfed by someone with only the faintest awareness, let alone experience of real Jew-killing anti-Semitism.

    There is also an elemental sense of identity-confusion in Valdary’s writing about Israel and Jews. Though she’s a devout Christian evangelical, she keeps referring to herself in connection with Jews as “us.” Glowing articles about her written by other pro-Israel authors (also in TOI) note that she observes some Jewish laws, holidays and rituals. This confusion perfectly illustrates the growing conflation of Israeli ultra-nationalism with Christian Zionism. Settlerism has so few friends that the Israeli right embraces them wherever it can find them; whether from the heart of a Christian messianic movement that sees Jews as useful props to bring the Second Coming; or from neo-Nazi movements which have been welcomed with open arms by Israeli far-right MKs into the halls of the Knesset.
    she sounds great for your cause good luck with her then

    • “a little more balance from silverstein about your right on Chloe”

      ‘noam’ do you write this garbage for laughs?

      • well yes really you are all laughable in your faith, that you know aint true,oh we have been here before aint we gerry

        • Noam. Not only do your posts rather suspiciously have 1 vote at 5 stars almost immediately after they have been posted (narcissist, are we?) but they are becoming less and less coherent (which is something of an acheivement, given teh low standards you set for yourself).

          What on G-d’s great Earth is this post supposed to mean?

          On second thoughts, please don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.

    • It’s very unfortunate that Jews comprise some of the most vile anti-Semites in the world. As a Jew, I’ve very happily befriended Chloe Valdary via facebook and I salute her brave, strong stance against anti-Semites including Jewish ones.