Civil Rights Leader Accuses ‘Israel Bashers’ of Racism
A civil rights activist tagged supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as racist in an article published by the New York Post on Friday.
“To these haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel,” Pennsylvania State Senator and African-American community leader Anthony Hardy Williams said.
Williams, whose father worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr., wrote The Racism of the Israel-Bashers in defense of Chloé Simone Valdary, a non-Jewish undergraduate at the University of New Orleans and founder of the Allies of Israel Association.
Valdary was attacked by BDS supporters after criticizing New York’s Jewish Museum for inviting Judith Butler, a University of California, Berkeley professor and outspoken BDS supporter, to speak.
Activist Zaid Jilani tweeted, “Non-jew [Chloé Valdary] smears famous Jewish academic as ally of Hitler,” then mocked her, while Max Blumenthal, a former writer for the pro-Hezbollah Al Akhbar newspaper, tweeted that Valdary is “beyond sickening,” “irrationally hateful” — and a “non-Jew” who represents “the future of Zionism.” Richard Silverstein of the blog Tikun Olam said, “They finally did it: found a Negro Zionist: Uncle Tom is dancin’ for joy!”
Speaking up for Valdary, Williams said Silverstein’s “racial slurs are beyond the pale.”
“And his river of hate continued to flow, as he called this young African-American woman a ‘house slave’ and said the ‘Israel Lobby is her Master,'” he added. “His racist intent with such loaded language could hardly be more clear.”
The expression “Uncle Tom” has historically been used against African-Americans seen as subservient to whites. “Few words could be more hurtful, especially from a Caucasian man publicly castigating a young African-American woman,” Williams said.
“Why should such hate speech go unchallenged, just because it’s cloaked as criticism of Israel?” he wrote. “I’m exceptionally disturbed to discover that the response to this attack on Valdary has been subdued, almost nonexistent… Don’t dismiss this incident as a one-off. It represents a deeply troubling trend in an anti-Israel movement that goes way beyond honest criticism of Israeli policy to dehumanize and vilify Israel, Israelis and anyone who supports the Jewish state.”
Williams said BDS supporters forget “all pretense of decency, fairness or humanity” in their efforts to boycott the Jewish state. He asked the public to denounce Silverstein’s racism and stand by Valdary as she continues to fight for Israel.
“Just as Jews stood with African-Americans during the fight for civil rights in the 1960s, so too must we as leaders of the Black community stand together today with Chloé Simone Valdary, on the one hand, and the Jewish community, on the other hand,” he said.
“This is doubly true for liberal Americans, who have so long stood for rooting out hatred, discrimination and bigotry,” he added. “They should make clear that they believe in these things just as strongly when it comes to the subject of Israel.”