What Zionism means: letter from an angry black woman

February 13, 2015 at 12:13 am (Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, civil rights, Human rights, Middle East, palestine, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", zionism)

  To the Students for Justice in Palestine, a Letter From an Angry Black Woman:

‘You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes’

Above: A protest led by Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009, on Martin Luther King Day, remembering the advantages of a public-school—rather than day-school—education

The student organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is prominent on many college campuses, preaching a mantra of “Freeing Palestine.” It masquerades as though it were a civil rights group when it is not. Indeed, as an African-American, I am highly insulted that my people’s legacy is being pilfered for such a repugnant agenda. It is thus high time to expose its agenda and lay bare some of the fallacies they peddle.

• If you seek to promulgate the legacy of early Islamic colonialists who raped and pillaged the Middle East, subjugated the indigenous peoples living in the region, and foisted upon them a life of persecution and degradation—you do not get to claim the title of “Freedom Fighter.”

• If you support a racist doctrine of Arab supremacism and wish (as a corollary of that doctrine) to destroy the Jewish state, you do not get to claim that the prejudices you peddle are forms of legitimate “resistance.”

• If your heroes are clerics who sit in Gaza plotting the genocide of a people; who place their children on rooftops in the hopes they will get blown to bits; who heap praises upon their fellow gang members when they succeed in murdering Jewish school boys and bombing places of activity where Jews congregate—you do not get to claim that you are some Apollonian advocate of human virtue. You are not.

• If your activities include grieving over the woefully incompetent performance by Hamas rocketeers and the subsequent millions of Jewish souls who are still alive—whose children were not murdered by their rockets; whose limbs were not torn from them; and whose disembowelment did not come into fruition—you do not get to claim that you stand for justice. You profess to be irreproachable. You are categorically not.

• If your idea of a righteous cause entails targeting and intimidating Jewish students on campus, arrogating their history of exile-and-return and fashioning it in your own likeness you do not get to claim that you do so in the name of civil liberty and freedom of expression.

• You do not get to champion regimes that murder, torture, and persecute their own people, deliberately keep them impoverished, and embezzle billions of dollar from them—and claim you are “pro-Arab.” You are not.

• You do not get to champion a system wherein Jews are barred from purchasing land, traveling in certain areas, and living out such an existence merely because they are Jews—and claim that you are promoting equality for all. You do not get to enable that system by pushing a boycott of Jewish owned businesses, shops, and entities—and then claim that you are “against apartheid.” That is evil.

• You do not get to justify the calculated and deliberate bombings, beatings, and lynchings of Jewish men, women, and children by referring to such heinous occurrences as part of a noble “uprising” of the oppressed—that is racism. It is evil.

• You do not get to pretend as though you and Rosa Parks would have been great buddies in the 1960s. Rosa Parks was a real Freedom Fighter. Rosa Parks was a Zionist.

Coretta Scott King was a Zionist.

A. Phillip Randolph was a Zionist.

Bayard Rustin was a Zionist.

Count Basie was a Zionist.

Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. was a Zionist.

Indeed, they and many more men and women signed a letter in 1975 that stated: “We condemn the anti-Jewish blacklist. We have fought too long and too hard to root out discrimination from our land to sit idly while foreign interests import bigotry to America. Having suffered so greatly from such prejudice, we consider most repugnant the efforts by Arab states to use the economic power of their newly-acquired oil wealth to boycott business firms that deal with Israel or that have Jewish owners, directors, or executives, and to impose anti-Jewish preconditions for investments in this country.”

You see, my people have always been Zionists because my people have always stood for the freedom of the oppressed. So, you most certainly do not get to culturally appropriate my people’s history for your own. You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes and you do not get to feign victimhood in our name. You do not have the right to slander my people’s good name and link your cause to that of Dr. King’s. Our two causes are diametrically opposed to each other.

Your cause is the antithesis of freedom. It has cost hundreds of thousands of lives of both Arabs and Jews. It has separated these peoples, and has fomented animosity between them. It has led to heartache, torment, death and destruction.

It is of course your prerogative to continue to utilize platitudes for your cause. You are entirely within your rights to chant words like “equality” “justice” and “freedom fighter.”

You can keep using those words for as long as you like. But I do not think you know what they mean.


  1. Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

    Himmel Mein Gott. The muslims want to slaughter the Jews. The right wing fascists want to wipe out the Jews and muslims. The muslim Sunnies want to wipe out other muslims.
    Glad to be a Scottish Protestant who wants to wipe out poverty.

  2. damon said,

    The person who wrote this piece is Chloe Valdary.
    I looked her up:

    ”Growing up in New Orleans, Chloe Valdary kept kosher, studied the Jewish Bible and celebrated Jewish holidays with festive meals. In recent years she has become an outspoken pro-Israel campus activist, contributing regularly to the Jewish press, and speaking and posting widely about the merits of the Jewish state on social media.

    But the senior at the University of New Orleans is not Jewish. She is Christian — a member of the Intercontinental Church of God, whose adherents revere the Hebrew Bible and follow the Jewish calendar — and she is black.”

    • Jim Denham said,

      You are right about the author, damon: my mistake, which I have now corrected.

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Gene, over at ‘That Place’:

    Now that George Galloway is having something of a meltdown over accusations of antisemtism, I want to make some observations which I’ve made before.

    Criticism, even the most scathing criticism, of the Israeli government or its actions is not by itself antisemitic.

    But according to Hannah Rosenthal, the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism:

    Our State Department uses Natan Sharansky’s framework for identifying when someone or a government crosses the line – when Israel is demonized, when Israel is held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel is delegitimized. These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism.

    I agree, and further:

    When someone maintains friendly relations with notorious antisemites; demonizes Israel and holds it to a different standard from other countries, especially on matters of human rights and self-defense; focuses laser-like on Israel’s crimes and misdeeds (some of which are imaginary or exaggerated, others of which are all too real) while ignoring, excusing, glorifying or doing propaganda for governments of other countries which are far less free and do far worse (see also here, here and here); trivializes the Holocaust by comparing Israel’s actions in Gaza to the systematic starvation to death and ultimate slaughter of more than 300,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto; says that of all the countries in the world, the only one that has no right to exist is the one with a Jewish majority; and when almost half of the world’s Jews live in that state and the great majority of Jews living elsewhere support it– then the burden is not on me to prove that person is antisemitic. Rather the burden is on him to prove that he is not.

    • Eric said,

      The fellas at Jewdas have come up with a more sensible analysis of anti-semitism:

      But what about Israel? Doesn’t it get much more complex?

      Not really. Israel is a state. You can’t really be racist against a state. There is no position on Israel that is per se antisemitic – although you can express views it in an racist way. Calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees? Fine. Calling for Israel/Palestine to become a single state, with equality for all its citizens? No racism there. Calling for BDS? Lots of states are subject to some kind of sanctions, this is not normally described as racist. Calling Israel an apartheid state? People can debate whether or not the claim is fair but it’s hard to see how it can be antisemitic. But blaming policies of the Israel government on ‘The Jews’? Yep, that’s racist. Blaming them on ‘the Zionists’? I’m afraid that, most of the time, that’s racist too – ‘Zionist’ has long been a synonym for ‘Jew’ in much racist discourse.

      Critiquing Israel policy by relying on negative stereotypes of Jews – ‘controlling the world’, ‘money obsessed’ etc.? That’s racist too. Hey, I know that people may not be aware of all stereotypes that have been used about Jews, so may find this difficult to avoid. But there’s an easy remedy, in line with what we laid out above. Don’t generalise at all. Be precise, if the Israeli Prime Minister has done something, blame it on them as an individual. Likewise, if the criticism is of the Israeli army, make that clear. Likewise, critique ‘the Israeli government’ or even ‘structural discrimination inherent in the the Israeli state’ – just don’t blame it on Jews or Zionists. They probably didn’t have any say in the matter. Precision removes any tinge of unwitting racist generalisation.

  4. Mike Killingworth said,

    An interesting definition of Zionism. Anyone got any idea what she was on when she wrote it?

  5. damon said,

    Chloe Valdary is entitled to her views, but she seems just as partisan as any old I/P sectarian. She’s certainly unusual for her age and background.

    I’ve used that word ‘sectarian’ before, to describe my feelings about the international supporters of both sides of Israel/Palestine.
    It doesn’t mean that either side doesn’t have valid points and arguments – both do. But they practically cancel each other out.
    This woman on one side and Ben White on the other.

    I wrote about this issue of using leaders of other struggles to lend credence to your own conflict a few years ago.
    About Belfast murals along the Falls Road.
    There, Irish Republicans co-opted Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, and Angela Davis, among others.
    Alongside other murals of IRA heroes.
    I thought it was a bit of a cheek myself

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      The Fascist Catholic (fascism derives from Catholicism) IRA embraced all sorts of people to legitimise itself. The British left set itself back decades with its touchy feeling sympathy with IRA murdering bastards.

    • Eric said,

      This is one of the few times where describing it as sectarian is correct. The Israel-Palestine conflict is not about religiom. But this little letter Its just a Christian fundy ranting about Muslims.

  6. Jim Denham said,

  7. joannegerber said,

    Towards the woman who wrote this essay I feel profound respect and gratitude.

    (PS: I’m Jewish, a political liberal and pro-leftwing-Zionist)

  8. damon said,

    I’m still not sure what the point of highlighting Chloe Valdary’s views here was.
    She’s a religious fundamentalist by the sounds of it, and got interested in Israel after reading Exodus. Of course there is a perfectly good case for Israel. And there are some pretty strong cases against it also.
    Most strongly, in the way it responds to calculated aggression from the likes of Hamas etc. It kills and injures far too many innocent people in response. Particularly since they helped bring Hamas into existence in the first place.
    How Israel helped create Hamas

    What seems to happen, just like in Northern Ireland, is that people line up on one side or another and won’t take any notice of the other side.

    • Ben said,

      Hamas was founded in 1987 when some Palestine Arabs embarked on a campaign of stoning and knifing Jews which resulted in the deaths from braining and stabbing of many Jewish civilians. Hamas participated in this violent campaign wholeheartedly. Before that, various Islamic groups who did not advocate or practice violence against Jews were permitted by the Israeli authorities to operate in the Arab sector, as Israel was enjoined to since these Islamic organizations operated within the law at that time while the non-Islamist PLO was engaged in terrorist “armed struggle”. To describe this sequence of events as “helping to create Hamas” is a perverse distortion of the facts.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      Silly comment damon. BRITISH Northern Ireland was attacked by fascist Catholic Irish Republicans. What side did you expect the British to take sides with. Help ma boab, get a grip damon.

  9. Jim Denham said,

    damon: I posted this piece because it’s an unusual and interesting ‘take’ on Zionism and Israel. from a perhaps unexpected source. It’s in stark contrast to the usual liberal/leftist demonization of Israel – eg: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/13/cultural-boycott-israel-starts-tomorrow
    I know nothing about the author and suspect that I would have many differences with her, but I see no evidence (from the article itself) that she is a “religious fundamentalist” though she may well be a Christian (she sounds like a follower of Martin Luther King).

    In general, I don’t approve of “appropriating” other peoples’ struggles in order to validate your own – something that anti-Israel campaigners now regularly do with regard to black struggles, so it’s interesting to read the thoughts of a black activist who rejects this. Zionism is widely demonised as a form of “racism” and, indeed, some of its adherents in Israel undoubtedly are racists. But many Zionists are active anti-racists and see themselves as being politically on the left.

    Anti-Israel/anti-Zionist campaigners of the PSC/BDS variety seem to ignore the simple fact that Zionism is no more and no less that Jewish nationalism. It actually has a lot in common with Garvey’s Pan Africanist movement.

    • damon said,

      I absolutely agree about the people in that Guardian link you did. They’re awful. And I’ve got nothing against Zionism itself either. It should have worked out wonderfully – it just didn’t though. And much of the blame must be put on Israel’s shoulders too, as it went for military solutions from day one. They can work, but they also bring about great negativity also.
      Like spawning the shahid/martyr culture among Palestinians.

      Fair play to the young woman for having her own views on I/P, but she doesn’t have much more credibility than anyone else – and her speaking ”as a black woman” is just more race posturing.
      I think anyway.

    • joannegerber said,

      Actually, I think I remember who she is now. I have heard of her before. A nice enough woman, if I remember correctly, but definitely not representative. Nor would she find much support among young black people in the US. A marginal voice, really. Oh well. Too bad.

    • joannegerber said,

  10. Lamia said,

    When damon is on his deathbed, his final words will surely be: “I don’t really see what the point of that was.”

    I really respect Chloe Simone Valdery for her words.

    • damon said,

      Hi Lamia, how’s your mate Abu?

      I often start like that, when I don’t see what the point is.
      Here it was just some opinionated student who describes herself as angry.
      When people get angry about I/P there’s usually no reasoning with them.
      Which I have found out to my cost from the likes of those I/P nut-jobs on Harry’s Place.
      It’s understandable that people are sectarian. It’s an unfortunate human condition and I usually forgive people for being so.
      It’s when people deny they are though and insist that they are always right, that I mark them down a few points.

      • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

        Nothing all that wrong with being sectarian provided you are not violent to other sectarians.

  11. Chris Brennan said,

    wow, this is like uber Jew shagging apologia.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      So who is Chris Brennan? Anyone!

  12. Eric said,

    [If you seek to promulgate the legacy of early Islamic colonialists who raped and pillaged the Middle East, subjugated the indigenous peoples living in the region, and foisted upon them a life of persecution and degradation—you do not get to claim the title of “Freedom Fighter.”]

    OK so this is a letter from a nutter. Thankyou for your contribution.

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