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.
In July, Valdary, 21, garnered widespread attention for a Tablet piece in which she accused pro-Palestinian activists of misappropriating the rhetoric of the black civil rights movement. In the piece, titled “To the Students for Justice in Palestine, a Letter From an Angry Black Woman,” Valdary addressed the campus group.
“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,” she wrote.
Valdary, who has blogged for The Times of Israel for the past two years, also listed prominent black civil rights-era Zionists, telling Israel’s college-age critics, “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.” (Parks signed a 1975 letter by the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee, backing Israel’s right to exist.)
Her outspoken support for Israel in the name of civil rights not only cuts against the arguments of Students for Justice in Palestine and other critics of Israel, but also against the drift of much black civil rights rhetoric over the past few decades.
While a number of early civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., were supportive of Israel, subsequent black leaders — particularly starting with the black power movement in the late 1960s — often have been sharply critical of the Jewish state. Black power leader Stokely Carmichael described Israel as a “settler colony,” while more recently, professor and activist Cornel West endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “war criminal.”
Against that backdrop, Valdary’s stance and identity make her a uniquely compelling voice in the world of Israel advocacy.
“Because so many prominent black leaders are hostile to Israel, it makes it even more powerful to have someone who’s black supporting Israel,” said Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, a hardline Israel advocacy group.
Chloe Valdary spent the summer in Boston working as a consultant for Camera. (photo credit: Chris Keuhl/JTA)
Indeed, a number of pro-Israel organizations, including AIPAC and Christians United for Israel, have made concerted efforts in recent years to develop ties with African-American supporters.