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Press Release

New Book from Alice Walker Contains ‘Shocking’ 80-Page Screed Against Israel & Jews

New York, June 18, 2013 … Alice Walker, the American writer who has long made clear her antipathy toward the state of Israel, “has taken her extreme and hostile views to a shocking new level” in her latest book of meditations on life and her personal activism, according to a review of the book by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Walker’s “The Cushion in the Road” (The New Press, 2013) devotes 80 pages to a screed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict replete with fervently anti-Jewish ideas and peppered with explicit comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany. 

The 12 essays of the section, titled “On Palestine,” which make up a quarter of the book, 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.  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.

“Alice Walker has sunk to new lows with essays that remove the gloss of her anti-Israel activism to reveal someone who is unabashedly infected with anti-Semitism,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “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, a Pulitzer Prize-winning African-American writer, essayist and poet, has a long history of biased statements against Israel. She has traveled repeatedly to the West Bank and Gaza to protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. In June 2012 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.” Most recently, Walker wrote a letter calling on the singer-songwriter Alicia Keys to cancel her upcoming July 4th concert appearance in Tel Aviv in protest of Israel’s policies.

In “The Cushion in the Road,” Walker describes Israel’s actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians as “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “crimes against humanity,” and “cruelty and diabolical torture.”

Some selected excerpts from the book:

  • Speaking of Black churches whose leaders recount Biblical stories about the Israelites’ various triumphs and travails, Walker writes, “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.”
  • Walker analogizes the Palestinians’ situation with the civil rights era and discrimination against Blacks in the American South.  She writes: “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.”
  • On several occasions Walker seems to indicate that the purported evils of modern-day Israel are a direct result of Jewish values, alleging that Jews behave the way they do because they believe in their “supremacy.”  She 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, she writes, “Can people who hunger so desperately for what other people have ever have enough? One thinks of Hitler, of course, and Napoleon….”  She writes of the inclusion of Israeli films in the 2009 Toronto Film Festival that it was comparable to “festivals in the past, festivals leading up to World War II,” which were designed to “make the bully look more respectable.”

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.