We are seeing more smashmouth politics in several attacks on Alice Walker as an anti-Semite for daring to criticize Israel– in Walker’s new book and in her appeal to Alica Keys to boycott Israel rather than play Tel Aviv on July 4.
First, here’s an editorial in the Daily News applauding Keys for going through with her plans to play Israel. Presumably this editorial was approved by Mortimer Zuckerman, the paper’s owner and publisher and a leading Israel lobbyist:
Walker, 69, addressed Keys, 33, with words that were as offensively condescending as they were smugly muddleheaded.
“You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the U.S. South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people,” Walker wrote to Keys…
“Google Montgomery Bus Boycott, if you don’t know about this civil rights history already. We changed our country fundamentally, and the various boycotts of Israeli institutions and products will do the same there. It is our only nonviolent option and, as we learned from our own struggle in America, nonviolence is the only path to a peaceful future.”
Keys would have none of it from a person who is one step above a lunatic shouting anti-Semitic canards on the street.
Israeli diplomat Ido Aharoni in the New York Post writes, “When Artists Scapegoat Israel,” and goes in for Syria-baiting:
A well-known American author, who prides herself of the protection of freedom and pluralism, is trying to deprive millions of Israeli music fans of their right to enjoy music.
Let’s admit: You do not think Israel has the right to be presented positively. You displayed your own inability to relate to Israel other than through the prism of the conflict with its neighbors.
Have you done anything about Syria? Ninety thousand dead, 1.5 million refugees. Full-blown civil war.
Now here is a piece in the Times of Israel, a rightwing publication, about Walker’s new book, The Cushion in the Road (whose list of themes is: “racism, Africa, solidarity with the Palestinian people, the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, Cuba, healthcare, and the work of Aung San Suu Kyi”):
The book reveals Walker as “someone who is unabashedly infected with anti-Semitism,” Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s National Director said. “She has taken her extreme and hostile views to a shocking new level, revealing the depth of her hatred of Jews and Israel to a degree that we have not witnessed before. Her descriptions of the conflict are so grossly inaccurate and biased that it seems Walker wants the uninformed reader to come away sharing her hate-filled conclusions that Israel is committing the greatest atrocity in the history of the world.”
Richard Friedman, writing in the Wall Street Journal about the Alicia Keys outreach, lectures Walker about the civil rights movement:
Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, has lately garnered more attention for her unhinged political views than for her writing…
The analogy is false: “Apartheid” is a more apt description for the systemic discrimination against women across the Arab world than the only democracy in the Middle East. But this comparison is also an insult to the courageous civil-rights activists who risked their lives in Birmingham, Montgomery and elsewhere in the South to attain full rights for black Americans.
What characterized the civil-rights movement was its strict adherence to the philosophy of nonviolence. Even when attacked with fire hoses and police dogs, civil-rights demonstrators courageously refused to retaliate.
The Palestinian leadership, by contrast…
Walker’s response to Friedman:
In such a world, created no doubt by the deeply “hinged” it is an honor to be seen as unhinged. But more to the point, it is an honor to have had the opportunity to travel to Gaza, shortly after the 22 days of Operation Cast Lead when bombs were dropped indiscriminately on a virtually defenseless population and in which 1400 humans, 300 of them children, were killed. And to visit the West Bank, where I witnessed the horrendous wall the Israelis have built that destroys Palestinian neighborhoods and farms, while stealing more and more of their land. An honor to have witnessed first hand the humiliating treatment meted out to Palestinians at every opportunity by some of the most clinically “unhinged” people, outside the South of 50 years ago, I have ever seen. The honor there was to stand beside Palestinians as we were all herded through the check-points; to witness small boys attempt to hold on to their dignity as the heavily armed Israeli check-point soldiers, out of our line of sight, obviously forced them to drop their pants. (No doubt every day.) They came into view again clutching their beltless pants and attempting to smile. I recognized that smile from white supremacist Georgia when I was growing up. It is one of the bravest in the world.