Valdary has many friends in the pro-Israel world, and once someone saw the tweet and shared it with others, Silverstein was pummeled with outraged tweets. The thrust of most of the tweets was that Silverstein revealed his own racism by using a name long ago disfavored by African Americans, the term “Negro.” In addition, the idea of referring to Valdary as an Uncle Tom-like character was deeply offensive.
Defending his comments, Silverstein tweeted:”Sorry but a non-Jew who calls a fellow-Jew a vile anti-Semite will be called terms I consider suitable.”
How noble of him to defend fellow Jews! But if non-Jews cannot decide who is a “good enough” Jew, how is it that Silverstein, an aging white Jewish guy, thinks he is entitled to decide what is a “good enough” African American? Because that is just what he attempted to, as part of his defense, in the following tweet:
This Jewish Press reporter assumed Valdary took the hatefulness with a grain of salt, seeing it as the outburst of a hate-obsessed crank. But when asked whether she was surprised or hurt by the suggestion that she might not be entitled to have an opinion about whether someone is an anti-Semite, Valdary’s response was the surprise. She told The Jewish Press on Sunday evening:
To be honest, the attack really did hurt me. Not because of who had said it, but because I didn’t really think it was possible that in today’s world, in the 21st century, there would be such bold and overt racism expressed by someone who is looked up to in the media.
That someone would actually suggest that my writings should be questioned because I’m a young black girl, that was a painful reminder of what my ancestors had to endure, and it reinforced my sense of duty to the cause of freedom, to which all peoples must aspire.
When this reporter expressed surprise that someone like Silverstein could hurt the feelings of someone like Valdary, she replied,
“Yes, Saturday was a very bad day for me. It’s not that he means anything, it’s just that you know my people’s experience is poignant and, to be frank, I’d never experienced anything even remotely resembling [the ugliness of] pre-civil rights movement in America. But it’s a teaching moment.”
Silverstein, ever the opportunist, hoping for some media attention, tried to add yet another hateful term to the litany of anti-Israel expressions.
Two years ago a gay Jewish anti-Israel academic wrote an editorial, which The New York Times gleefully published, in which the term “pinkwashing” was coined. It was intended to denigrate the fact that Israel is the most gay-friendly country in the Middle East. Gays have served openly in the military for years, and gay civil union partners are entitled to benefits in Israel. Many Arab and Muslim gays move to Israel as an hospitable refuge from Muslim countries and territories where homosexuality is punishable by death or imprisonment.
Pinkwashing, then, is the suggestion (made with a straight face) that Israel only treats homosexuals well in an effort to cover up its “inhumane treatment” of Palestinian Arabs. Really.
Silverstein lamely tried to take the situation of finding a genuinely Zionist African American and create a new term, “blackwashing.” Will the world of Israel haters really latch on to this term?