I do not suffer fools gladly. It seems that Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple, has refused to authorize a Hebrew translation by an Israeli publisher of that work. Her reason? “Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories.”
There are some who are making an issue of pointing out that boycotting the Hebrew language goes too far. That by doing so she shows her hatred of more than an “Apartheid State”. Here is the way Jonathan Tobin put it in Commentary Magazine:
This sort of a boycott is an attempt to treat Jews and Hebrew, which is the national language of the Jewish people, as beyond the pale. In doing so, Walker has illustrated how hatred for Israel can erase the line between political opinion and outright anti-Semitism.
I wouldn’t go that far. I just think she is being stupid and foolish. In her zeal to prove her Leftist credentials she has used a symbol of the Israel – its language – to make a statement.
How sad that someone with the sensitivity to write about the downtrodden history of her own people in 1930s America, cares so little about the history of the conflict between Israelis and the Arabs. Had she the slightest inkling about the history of the Jewish people, she would not be doing this.
I doubt that Ms. Walker is an anti Semite. She’s just ignorant – albeit perhaps purposely so. She is apparently blinded to the truth because she is listening with only one ear. The one which hears only the Palestinian side of the suffering… a practiced trait of the Left.
Palestinians do suffer. But as I have said in the past so many times it is not because of any racist - state issued polices like the Apartheid of pre Mandela South Africa. Palestinians suffer because of policies Israel requires for the safety of their own citizens – some of who are Arabs.
Ms. Walker fails to recognize who is really at fault here. If the Arabs would stop trying to kill us in suicide bombings and barrages of rocket attacks - these harsh measures wouldn’t be necessary.
Are there better, less oppressive ways of handling the security of Israel’s citizens? I don’t know. But I doubt Israel would risk all the negative press it is getting for this if there was a better way of doing it.
Lest anyone think I refuse people the right to criticize Israel, I don’t. I respect anyone who has an honest criticism. I am not some right wing nut job who thinks that we ought to storm Har HaBayis. I have had plenty of criticism about the excesses by extremist settler types who go around perpetrating “price tag” raids on innocent Arab villages on the West Bank (Yehuda and Shomron). I deplore the view that worships mass murderers like Baruch Goldstein or assassins like Yigal Amir. Rabbi Meyer Kahane is not one of my heroes. And I do have compassion for the innocent Palestinians who suffer because of the security precautions taken by Israel.
But when one starts seeing only one side of the story and acts only to relieve the pain of one side – ignoring the pain of the other, I lose respect for them.
Who advocates boycotts? Clearly Palestinians activists do. And so do anti-Semites. Ms. Walker is not a Palestinian. Nor do I think she is necessarily an anti Smite. But there are others who advocte boycotts too. Like Leftist propagandists who oppose any non socialist government; and people who are ignorant of the realities of the situation seeing only at the plight of the underdog. Ms. Walker is probably a little of both.
She may be a gifted writer. She may be an intelligent compassionate woman in many ways. But her compassion here falls short. By boycotting the Hebrew language - she is nothing more than a fool.