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Alice Walker Refuses to Let The Color Purple Be Published in Israel

Illustration for article titled Alice Walker Refuses to Let emThe Color Purple/em Be Published in Israel

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has taken the very unusual step of making a public case for why she's refusing to let an Israeli publisher release her famous novel The Color Purple in Hebrew. Her choice is raising some eyebrows since her decision is motivated by her belief that Israel is an "apartheid" state. She published the letter she wrote to Yediot Books, the Israeli publisher, and it said, in part,

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.
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.


Those are some pretty inflammatory statements, though it's clear from another passage in her letter that her intentions may be anti-Israel but are certainly not anti-Semitic:

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.


One complication to all of this is that her book was already translated into Hebrew in the 1980s; so technically the people of Israel could already access it if they wanted to. Add to that the fact that The Blaze spoke to someone in the publisher's production department who said they had no plans to translate the book and have never published the book before. So it's not totally clear why Walker made her objection at this moment. Still, regardless of what you think of her motivations, her announcement is certainly starting a discussion, which was obviously Walker's intent to begin with.

‘The Color Purple' Author Claims She Won't Allow Translation of Book Into Hebrew Because of Israel's 'Apartheid' [The Blaze]

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Criticizing the policies of Israel does not make one anti-Semitic. Israel deserves FAR more criticism than it gets.