NEW YORK — A new book by Alice Walker features a lengthy section on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “replete with fervently anti-Jewish ideas and peppered with explicit comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany,” the Anti-Defamation League charged on Tuesday.
“The Cushion in the Road” (The New Press, 2013) takes Walker’s ”extreme and hostile views to a shocking new level,” the organization said.
The book, which was published two months ago, features 12 essays in a section titled “On Palestine,” making up a quarter of the book, that are “rife with comparisons of Israelis to Nazis, denigrations of Judaism and Jews, and statements suggesting that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state,” the ADL said in a statement. “Walker’s book also attempts to justify terrorism against Israeli civilians, claiming that the ‘oppressed’ Palestinians should not be blamed for carrying out suicide bombings.”
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.”
Walker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning African-American writer, essayist and poet. Last year she refused to allow an Israeli company to publish a Hebrew edition of her classic novel, “The Color Purple,” in protest of what she described as Israel’s “apartheid” policies and “persecution of the Palestinian people.” More recently, she wrote a letter urging the singer-songwriter Alicia Keys to cancel her upcoming July 4 concert appearance in Tel Aviv in protest of Israel’s policies.
In “The Cushion in the Road,” the ADL noted, Walker describes Israel’s actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians as “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “crimes against humanity,” and “cruelty and diabolical torture.”
Writing of Black churches whose leaders recount Biblical stories about the Israelites’ various triumphs and travails, in an excerpt highlighted by the ADL, Walker states, “It amazes me, in these churches, that there is no discussion of the fact that the other behavior we learned about in the Bible stories: the rapes, the murders, the pillaging, the enslavement of the conquered, the confiscation of land, the brutal domination and colonization of all ‘others’ is still front and center in Israel’s behavior today… It is because I recognize the brutality with which my own multibranched ancestors have been treated that I can identify the despicable, lawless, cruel, and sadistic behavior that has characterized Israel’s attempts to erase a people, the Palestinians, from their own land.”
Walker, the ADL statement went on, “suggests that Israeli settlements are motivated by the concept that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law,’ which she claims is a lesson she ‘learned from my Jewish lawyer former husband. This belief might even be enshrined in the Torah.’”
When discussing Israel’s alleged theft of Palestinian land, in another section highlighted by the ADL, Walker writes, “Can people who hunger so desperately for what other people have ever have enough? One thinks of Hitler, of course, and Napoleon….” She also writes of the inclusion of Israeli films in the 2009 Toronto Film Festival as being comparable to “festivals in the past, festivals leading up to World War II,” which were designed to “make the bully look more respectable.”