by Zenitha Prince
Special to the NNPA from The Afro-American Newspaper
The Anti-Defamation League on June 18 derided Pulitzer Prize-winning author and essayist Alice Walker over the “fervently anti-Jewish ideas” that they say permeates her latest book.
Walker’s The Cushion in the Road, a series of essays on varying topics, contains an 80-page “screed” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that uses “extremely vitriolic and hateful rhetoric” directed toward Israel, the ADL said.
“Alice Walker has sunk to new lows with essays that remove the gloss of her anti-Israel activism to reveal someone who is unabashedly infected with anti-Semitism,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, in a statement. “She has taken her extreme and hostile views to a shocking new level, revealing the depth of her hatred of Jews and Israel to a degree that we have not witnessed before. Her descriptions of the conflict are so grossly inaccurate and biased that it seems Walker wants the uninformed reader to come away sharing her hate-filled conclusions that Israel is committing the greatest atrocity in the history of the world.”
Walker, who participated in the Civil Rights Movement, has long criticized Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people, which she has compared to Black oppression in the United States, and has traveled to West Bank and Gaza to protest.
Last year, she refused to allow her award-winning classic, The Color Purple to be translated into Hebrew by an Israel publisher, in protest of Zionism and what she called Israel’s “apartheid” policies. And, more recently, she wrote a public letter to singer Alicia Keys, asking her to cancel her July 4 concert in Tel Aviv in protest of Israel’s alleged persecution and “genocide” of the Palestinian people.
“I want the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behavior toward the Palestinians, and I want the people of the United States to cease acting like they don’t know what’s going on,” Walker said in The Cushion in the Road. “All colonization, all occupation, all repression basically looks the same, whoever is doing it. Our heads cannot remain stuck in the sand.”
But this time Walker went too far, the ADL said. The book not only rationalizes the actions of Palestinian suicide bombers, it also compares Israel to Nazi Germany and it denigrates Judaism and traditional Jewish beliefs as being responsible for their feeling of “supremacy,” and the resulting evils that they allegedly perpetuate.
In its review of the book, the ADL highlights several so-called questionable passages.
For example, she equates the Palestinians’ situation with the centuries-long history of oppression and discrimination against Blacks in America.
“It is because I recognize the brutality with which my own multibranched ancestors have been treated that I can identify the despicable, lawless, cruel, and sadistic behavior that has characterized Israel’s attempts to erase a people, the Palestinians, from their own land,” Walker wrote.
She also criticized Black ministers, who recount the Biblical experience of the Israelites as a source of inspiration to their congregations.
“It amazes me, in these churches,” she wrote, “that there is no discussion of the fact that the other behavior we learned about in the Bible stories: the rapes, the murders, the pillaging, the enslavement of the conquered, the confiscation of land, the brutal domination and colonization of all ‘others’ is still front and center in Israel’s behavior today.”