Alice Walker is refusing to all her Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning novel The Color Purple
to be translated into Hebrew by Israeli publisher Yediot. Walker wrote in a letter
that she refused the offer due to Israel's "apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people." The letter is reprinted on the website for the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural
Boycott of Israel. In her letter Walker says,
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.
The New York Daily News blasted
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.
Walker for her stance saying, "Actually, Walker is a fellow traveler of Hamas, which is once again firing rockets into Israel, and she is so deranged by anti-Israel fever as to verge on anti-Semitism." The Daily News criticizes her affiliation with BDS: "Walker is an adherent of the odious BDS movement - boycott, disinvestment and sanctions - which finds the Jewish state guilty of, essentially, the sins of existence and self-defense. She sees her part as barring distribution of her book in Hebrew, the national language of Israel."
There was a Hebrew edition of The Color Purple
published in Israel in the 1980s. The novel was made into a feature film which was directed by Steven Spielberg. It starred Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.