Thank You Alice Walker

PulitzerPrize winning author and human rights activist Alice Walker has madea profound statement consistent with her life-long anti-racistcommitment: she finds human rights abuses against Palestinians andviolations of international law by the State of Israel intolerable. Thus Ms. Walker has refused to allow her book The Color Purpleto be translated into Hebrew by the Israeli publisher, Yediot Books. 

Ms.Walker has worked for several years in support of Palestinian humanrights. She participated in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla – attempting tobreak the illegal siege of Gaza, she has written and spoken upagainst the human rights abuses that Palestinians experience daily,and recently was a jurist on the Russell Tribunal for Palestine inSouth Africa. TheTribunal found Israel guilty of the crime of apartheid.

Inher statementto the publisher Ms. Walker compared Israeli apartheid with that ofboth South Africa and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.“Indeed,” she writes, “manySouth Africans who attended [the Russell Tribunal], including DesmondTutu, felt the Israeli version of these crimes is worse even thanwhat they suffered under the white supremacist regimes that dominatedSouth Africa for so long.”

Usingthe same tools of international solidarity that contributed to thestruggle that ended Apartheid in south Africa, Alice Walker advocatesBDS against Israel as a method of international pressure to compelIsrael to comply with international law. She therefore refuses toallow her book to be translated into Hebrew by an Israeli publisher.

Ofthe several recent successes of the BDS movement, Ms Walker’s actionis particularly worrisome to Israel as it frantically tries to branditself as a beacon of democracy and upholder of human rights. Inparticular, Israel and organizations in the United States thatsupport it have poured vast resources into courting African Americansto support its false projection of itself as an equal and democraticsociety. Recent deportation of and race riots against Africans in TelAviv dispel that myth. Refugees from Africa were violently attackedby mobs incited by the Israeli government, including comments fromthe InteriorMinister Eli Yishai that Israel “belongs to the White Man.”Israel is proceeding with deportation and detention of thousands ofrefugees from Sub Saharan Africa because they “threaten the Jewishidentity of the Israeli state.”

Israel’sapologists can’t allow such a prominent figure in American cultureto speak the truth about Israel without challenge. Alan Dershowitzimmediately wrotea piece in the JerusalemPostaccusing Ms. Walker of being a “bigot” who enforces “censorship”against Hebrew speakers, comparing her to the neo-Nazi David Duke.The venomous absurdity of his piece only serves to give greaterprominence and credibility to Alice Walker’s ethical and moralstance. His attack is a tribute to the successes of the BDS movement.

Ms.Walker ended her letter of refusal to Yediot Books with thestatement, “In faith that a just future can be fashioned from smallacts.” We, who believe in justice, in human rights, and in equalrights, applaud her for her courageous and moral actions. We willcontinue to make small acts of solidarity with the knowledge thattogether we will create a better and more just world.

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