Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize, is currently the focus of controversy over her recent endorsement in The New York Times “By the Book” column of “And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” an extended essay by British author and public speaker David Icke. Icke has a reputation for promoting the classic antisemitic meme of a Jewish cabal that seeks world domination. Yair Rosenberg of Tablet online magazine calls Icke’s book “an unhinged anti-Semitic conspiracy tract.”
The storm surrounding Walker’s praise for Icke is, she claims, nothing other than a cover for the ire of those from within the pro-Israel camp who criticize Icke and her for their outspoken support of the Palestinians. It is true that Walker has been an avid supporter of the Palestinian cause and an anti-Zionist for many years, even denying rights in 2012 to update the 1984 Hebrew translation of The Color Purple for second publication in Israel.
In a circa 2010 video found on YouTube entitled “The Palestinian Spirit” Walker strolls slowly amidst the wreckage of buildings and other urban rubble. This short documentary was filmed during her visit to Gaza in the wake of Israel’s 2008 “Cast Lead” military incursion. Speaking directly to the camera, obviously with the intention of eliciting shock and pathos, Walker describes “some of the weapons that the Israeli army used against the people, white phosphorous, for instance; some other atrocious chemical thing that makes your limbs fall off without being bloodied.”
She spares no hyperbole in condemning here what she claims to be the purposeful destruction by Israeli missiles of civilian infrastructure, including mosques, apartment buildings, medical clinics and schools.
Her embellished description of the surrounding destruction is more aptly applied to the remains of Hiroshima and Nagasaki following their near total devastation by American atomic bombs. Walker abjures the fact that many of the destroyed buildings she saw were used by the Hamas terrorist organization as storage spaces for its weapons and launching sites for rockets. Similarly, she fails to acknowledge that many of the civilian victims in Gaza, both the dead and the injured, were deliberately placed in harm’s way by the Hamas terrorists. This ploy is a trademark Hamas battle tactic; it is a war crime under the international Law of Armed Conflict.
Having established herself as an inveterate anti-Zionist, Walker conflates her utter disdain for Israel with derision of Jews. The Elder of Ziyon website posts a 2017 poem by Walker riddled with antisemitic sentiments, including:
“Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews, and not only
That, but to enjoy it?”…
“The Palestinians of Gaza
The most obvious representatives of us
At the present time – are a cruel example of what may be done
With impunity, and without conscience, By a Chosen people.”
Her 2013 collection of essays, A Cushion in the Road, is replete with antisemitic and anti-Israeli imagery. She labels Israel an apartheid society and makes the false claim that Israel’s laws distinguish between its Arab and Jewish citizens and deny the former basic rights.
A current posting on her website in response to the recent censure diverts attention from Icke’s claims of Holocaust denial and other calumnies against Jews by lashing out again at the state of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces.
“I don’t know about Icke, but I am also a supporter of BDS (Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions, now heavily under attack) as a just and justified means of ending Israeli occupation of Palestine, and ending the slaughter of Palestinians, especially children, which Israeli soldiers do with alarming frequency.”
This allegation is a malicious lie. Israeli soldiers have never “slaughtered” Palestinians, “especially children.” This fiction of Walker’s, though hardly original, is not occurring with “alarming frequency.” It is not occurring at all and it has never occurred. Walker cites no evidence to support her claim, but then again she need not. She is a heralded author, a woman, a person of color and of the left. For her acolytes and for many others these are all the credentials she requires to call out the State of Israel and Jews on charges of moral degeneracy, depravity and being a predatory people.
For all of her damning assertions, Walker has never witnessed an Israeli soldier wantonly and maliciously shoot any Palestinian, yet alone a Palestinian child. Walker has never witnessed the IDF employ phosphorous in response to Hamas missiles. Nor has Walker ever witnessed Palestinians suffering “diabolical torture” at the hands of Israelis.
Likewise, Walker has never witnessed Palestinian doctors treating Jewish patients and Jewish doctors treating Palestinian patients in Israeli hospitals. Walker has never witnessed Israeli agronomists transferring the technology for growing crops under arid conditions to Palestinian farmers. Nor has Walker ever witnessed Palestinian students in class at one of Israel’s many institutions of higher education.
Noted author and poet Alice Walker, former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, award-winning American playwright Tony Kushner, and former US President Jimmy Carter are among a coterie of high profile personalities, Jews among them, who capitalize on their celebrity to demonize the state of Israel and Jews.
Contrary to their professional achievements and their contributions to society they, and others like them, suffer from a blind spot on the topic of Israel and Zionism. This allows them to traffic in bias and slander without any regard for facts or truth. And because of who they are many people have high regard for their opinions, even opinions on topics that have nothing to do with their field of expertise.
If something is to be learned from the case of Alice Walker it is that even a self-proclaimed icon of peace, justice, and universal brotherhood may draw the line when it comes to the Jews.
Ardie Geldman is the director of iTalkIsrael of Efrat (www.iTalkIsrael.com).
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