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Advocates and Allies: Chloé Valdary

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Many of the friends of Israel and the Jewish people who we feature as Advocates and Allies are figures from the past. As important as it is to remember those historic heroes, it is also reassuring to know that people today stand for the Jewish state and its people, as well. One of these is Chloé Valdary, an American writer and speaker who has ignited the pro-Zionist movement among young people, as seen in this profile by Tablet's Isabel Fattal:

Speaking in a slow, lyrical rhythm, Valdary emitted a type of love letter to the Jewish people. “You are the sons and daughters of former slaves in Egypt, of warrior poets, and kings who slayed giants, and queens filled with courage, and prophets and dreamers,” she proclaimed. “Rise, Zion, rise,” she declared in closing, and the crowd immediately began to chant her name.

While some of the enthusiasm surrounding Valdary’s activism might stem from her large and precocious talent as a public speaker and provocateur, it is often accompanied by a sense of bewilderment as to how an African-American Christian from New Orleans became a self-appointed defender of the Jewish people. Yet her journey is more organic than many realize, she explained to me, when we spent a day together recently in New York. After her father came to the conclusion that the New Testament could not exist without the Old Testament, she told me, her family left their Baptist church and began to incorporate the laws of the Old Testament into their religious outlook, finding fellow believers in this form of Christianity at the Intercontinental Church of God in New Orleans. Since Valdary was a child, her family has not celebrated mainstream Christian holidays; instead, they observe Shabbat and Jewish holidays and keep kosher according to the Leviticus dietary laws. “That distinction between mainstream Christianity and how I observe my Christianity has shaped the way I think about the world, the way I think about myself, the way I think about others,” she said.

Valdary’s interest in Judaism and Israel, first introduced to her through her religious upbringing, began to grow consistently as she matured. She remembered picking up a few leftover Leon Uris books that were being given away in high school—“it was like divine providence,” she said, the cover looked interesting—and being captivated. When she took an Intro to International Studies course in the second semester of her freshman year at the University of New Orleans, she wrote a research paper in which she studied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the constructivist theory of international relations, which focuses on the ramifications of social and cultural practices on international affairs. The paper delved deeply into the influence of anti-Semitic values on Palestinian ideology and legislation. Valdary remembered having been appalled at the existence of anti-Semitism ever since watching Schindler’s List at the age of 14. Writing this paper clinched it: She had to do something...

Tags: Stories , Inspiration , Partnerships and People , Advocacy , IFCJ

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