Alice Walker bans Israeli translation

2012-06-19 15:21
Cape Town - Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker has refused an Israeli company, Yediot Books, from publishing a new Hebrew translation of her acclaimed novel The Color Purple, citing Israel's "apartheid policies".

The Color Purple was first translated into Hebrew in 1984.

In a letter to the publishers of Yediot Books, dated 9 June 2012, and first published by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott on Israel, Walker writes:
"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."

American apartheid

She adds: "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."

The Color Purple, which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was adapted into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1985, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey, and was nominated for 11 Oscars. Both the book and film deal with racism in the American South in the first part of the 20th century.
Walker's decision echoes that of international tabla player Zakir Hussein, who is considered one of the world's most influential Indian artists who announced that he was cancelling his upcoming performances in Israel.
In the 1980s, during apartheid, Walker also refused apartheid South Africa permission to screen the movie adaptation of her book, she writes in her letter:
"How happy we all were when the apartheid regime was dismantled and Nelson Mandela became the first president of colour 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.

"We must continue to work on the issue, and to wait," she concludes in her letter.

Walker has been vocal against Israel in recent years, and was a participant in one of the flotillas to Gaza, in her support of the Palestinian cause.


  • pieter.joubert.9 - 2012-06-20 08:59

    @jaba.kov: You make a lot of valid points. Israel is a democratic state, quite liberal at that. I am sure all Israeli citizens are treated equally. I am just so frustrated that the conflict with the Palestinians have been dragging on for so long. If the Palestinians want a seperate state (apartheid as you put it), why not give it to them? Once they have their own state and they attack Israel for any reason, Israel will be fully justified in retaliating. Look, for me this is not about Muslim versus Jew. I don't have a lot of time for religion, any religion. Religious intolerance between the faiths seems to be the root of all evil. I just hate to see injustice of any kind. Can't people just sort out their shi*t!?

      jaba.kov - 2012-06-20 13:28

      In 2000 (and on many other occasions), Israel offered the Palestinians nearly everything they demanded... and the offer was met not with a counteroffer, but with Jihad. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Clinton offered: -97% of the West Bank (with the remaining 3% to be made up from Israeli territory) -The entire Gaza Strip -Military control over East Jerusalem -Many Palestinian refugees to return to Israel proper, with the rest being settled in the new state of Palestine. There would be a $30 Billion fund to compensate refugees. According to chief US negotiator Dennis Ross, Yasser Arafat rejected it all, and did NOT offer new ideas of his own. Why do you think that is Piet? Today Hamas rejects the same offer as their objective is to kill all the Jews (at least they have the guts to tell the truth as written in their charter – plz Google their Charter Piet.) I know it takes two to tango Piet, but Israel truthfully wants peace! however the peace that you talk about like the peace that Israel wants is NOT the same peace that the Islamic fundamentalists have in mind - they want Israel destroyed and all the Jews of the Middle East thrown into the sea - this is why I reiterate the fact that Israeli self defence is not a ‘crime against humanity’ as the Pro-Palestine gang like to call it.

  • michael.barns.1 - 2012-06-20 09:41

    What a bloody joke I swear.... Its a book, now stay out of politics and get off your damn band waggon!

  • boaz.yarmarkov - 2012-06-20 16:10

    What an irony that an author like her, writing about racial bias, promotes such bias against Israel. How ignorant, stupid and wilfully dishonest can alleged intellectuals be. Walker's action does not strike out at Israeli policy but marginalizes every Hebrew speaking individual. A writer who so eloquently humanized her own people now attempts to make invisible mine. She should be ashamed of herself and the disgrace she has brought to herself and the traditions of open exploration and discussion. There is no "on the other hand" in regard to this kind of behaviour.

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