Color Purple author refuses to publish in 'apartheid' Israel
Alice Walker stirs controversy with letter of protest against Israel's 'persecution' of Palestinians
ACCLAIMED US author Alice Walker has refused to allow a new Israeli edition of her Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Color Purple, saying Israel is guilty of "apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people".
The Daily Mail reports that publisher Yediot Books had requested a new edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel which deals with the legacy of racism in the American Deep South but the African-American writer replied in a letter that she could not permit it "at this time".
Walker is an active member of the international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The movement calls for sanctions against Israel "until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights".
Walker told the publisher how she had attended the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, held in Cape Town, South Africa, in November 2011, where she heard "devastating testimonies from both Palestinians and Israelis".
The author, who is 68, adds that having grown up under "American apartheid" she finds Israel's treatment of Palestinians "far worse".
Walker equates the move to withhold publishing rights with the decision not to show the 1985 Stephen Spielberg film of her novel in South Africa before the end of apartheid. She writes: "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."
The Jewish Telegraph agency notes, however, that an earlier edition of The Color Purple was published in Hebrew in 1984.
The use of the term apartheid to describe the Israeli treatment of Palestinians is highly contentious both in Israel and beyond.
The conservative US magazine Commentary called Walker's letter to Yediot "among the most egregious acts of discrimination against Israel by leftist intellectuals". The magazine criticises her stance against Israel as "ill-informed", but adds that in discriminating against the language of the Jewish people, she has "crossed the line" into anti-Semitism.