‘The Color Purple’ author compared Israel to the Nazis – The Forward

This story originally appeared in Jweekly.com. Republished with permission.

The Bay Area Book Festival has rescinded an invitation to author Alice Walker for inflammatory statements she has made over the years about Jews and Israel.

Walker had been invited to interview writer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, at Jeffers’ request, as a headliner for the festival, which is due to take place May 7-8. After festival organizers learned from people inside and outside the organization of Walker’s history of remarks widely criticized as anti-Semitic, they rescinded his invitation on Thursday, prompting Jeffers to pull out of the festival. , according to festival publicist Julia Drake.

“We were aware that Alice Walker had made controversial statements in the past, but we didn’t know the extent of it,” Drake told J. in an interview. “One of the big missions of the festival is that we won’t tolerate any hate speech or anti-Semitic statements, so we realized that was not something we could do.”

Walker’s image and biography were removed from the festival’s website on Friday afternoon. Drake said organizers were now looking for “another headlining event worthy of the festival”.

Acclaimed novelist and poet – she was the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, for ‘The Color Purple’, in 1983 – and human rights activist, Walker has been criticized by the ADL and d other Jewish organizations for, among other things, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and expressing support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She refused to allow a Hebrew translation of “The Color Purple” because, as she wrote in a letter to an Israeli editor in 2012, “Israel is guilty of apartheid and the persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories.

In a 2018 interview with The New York Times, she promoted a book by a British conspiracy theorist that argues Jews control the world and quotes extensively from the discredited “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Walker, 78, was married to Jewish civil rights lawyer Melvyn Leventhal from 1967 to 1976. Their daughter, Rebecca Walker, identifies as black and Jewish and spent part of her childhood in San Francisco, a period she recounts in her 2000 memoir. “Black, White, and Jew: Autobiography of a Changing Self.”

The Bay Area Book Festival has been held in downtown Berkeley since 2015. This year’s event will feature interviews and panel discussions with dozens of local and national writers, including Rebecca Solnit (“Orwell’s Roses”), the siblings David and Margaret Talbot (“By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution”) and poet and National Book Award finalist Douglas Kearney (“Sho”).

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Lola R. McClure