Alice Walker’s position on Israeli Boycott

This just in via the Electronic Intifada:

JTA and Haaretz distort Alice Walker’s position on boycott of Israeli publisher

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Tue, 06/19/2012 – 11:31
Alice Walker speaks in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

A JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) report that was carried by Haaretz, accuses Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker of refusing to allow her iconic book The Color Purpleto be translated into Hebrew:

Alice Walker, author of “The Color Purple,” refused to authorize a Hebrew translation of her prize-winning work, citing what she called Israel’s “apartheid state.”

In a June 9 letter to Yediot Books, Walker said she would not allow the publication of the book into Hebrew because “Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories.”

In her letter, posted Sunday by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel on its website, Walker supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and offered her hope that the BDS movement “will have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation.”

But Walker’s 9 June letter to Yediot Books, full-text of which is posted on the website of PACBI, does not even mention the Hebrew language.

The JTA/Haaretz spin that makes it appear as if Walker were objecting to her book being in Hebrew is a complete distortion.

“Now is not the time”

Nor does the report mention that in making the comparison with apartheid South Africa, Walker said that she would wait until a post-apartheid future before allowing her book to be published by an Israeli publishing house. When it came to having her works published in South Africa, Walker wrote:

We decided to wait. How happy we all were when the apartheid regime was dismantled and Nelson Mandela became the first president of color of South Africa.

Only then did we send our beautiful movie! And to this day, when I am in South Africa, I can hold my head high and nothing obstructs the love that flows between me and the people of that country.

Which is to say, I would so like knowing my books are read by the people of your country, especially by the young, and by the brave Israeli activists (Jewish and Palestinian) for justice and peace I have had the joy of working beside. I am hopeful that one day, maybe soon, this may happen. But now is not the time.

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5 opinions on “Alice Walker’s position on Israeli Boycott”

  1. Well, it is her book and if she can live without the royalties good on her. On the other hand, maybe she felt there was no market for her book there and chose to avoid the embarassment. In the end either way it is her choice and freedom of choice is rather the point, isn’t it?

  2. Yediot Books, to whom Ms. Walker’s letter was addressed, notes on its website that her book was already translated into Hebrew in the 1980’s and is accessible to the people of Israel. Yediot Books also comments that there were no plans to retranslate or reissue in the first place.

    I very much agree with Rochelle Owens about this, and I would like to add that, as the late Alan Sillitoe had pointed out: strident and unyielding support of the Palestinian cause is too often anti-Semitism by the back door.

  3. I was just reading the same thing this morning. So in the end it’s all about self promotion by the author. And it worked. Look at all the press she is getting for a rather inconsequential decision. Hypocracy reigns!

  4. When you consider how much it bothers me, one would think I could, at the very least, learn to spell the word. It is ‘hypocrisy’ not hypocracy, of course. I know there are many as anal as I who will feel better now. Think of it as a public service. I care not what an Israeli or Palestinian publisher may choose to do with it!

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