Author Alice Walker has controversially announced a decision not to allow a reprint of her novel “The Color Purple” to be issued in Hebrew for sale to Israeli readers, despite previous translation and printing of the novel in the language and country.
In recent years, Alice Walker has been involved in some political action critical of Israel, and in a letter to publisher Yediot Press, Walker says her desire to non-violently protest the Israel is what led her to the decision — a decision that may seem somewhat hypocritical, considering the themes of her books and the fact she’s advocating limiting access to her works (a dangerous idea, ideology notwithstanding) based on a national identity.
In the letter, Walker thanks the publisher for their interest in the novel, but declines the request:
“Thank you so much for wishing to publish my novel THE COLOR PURPLE. It isn’t possible for me to permit this at this time for the following reason: As you may know, last Fall in South Africa the Russell Tribunal on Palestine met and determined that Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories.”
“The testimony we heard, both from Israelis and Palestinians (I was a jurist) was devastating. I grew up under American apartheid and this was far worse. Indeed, many South Africans who attended, including Desmond Tutu, felt the Israeli version of these crimes is worse even than what they suffered under the white supremacist regimes that dominated South Africa for so long.”
The author concludes:
“It is my hope that the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, of which I am part, will have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation.”
Alice Walker’s decision has not met with positive reaction from many, and the Anti-Defamation League states that it is “sad that people who inspire to fight bigotry and prejudice continue to have a biased and bigoted side,” but that “for some time Walker has been blinded by her anti-Israel animus.”
The advocacy group adds:
“As someone who is seen as a leader in the fight against racism and discrimination, we hope that Ms. Walker will make the effort to truly understand Israel’s fight for its survival and reconsider her unfortunate and discriminatory decision.”
Of Alice Walker’s decision, the ADL says the author has “squandered an opportunity to make her work more widely available to an important audience, not only in Israel but around the world, in the biblical and modern language of the Jewish people.”