JERUSALEM — Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, has refused to authorize a Hebrew translation of her prize-winning work, citing what she called Israel’s “apartheid state.”
In a June 9 letter to Yediot Books, Walker said she would not allow an Israeli house to publish the book, because “Israel is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the occupied territories.”
In her letter, posted June 17 by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel on its website, Walker supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and offered her hope that it “will have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation.”
It was not clear when Yediot Books, an imprint of the daily Yediot Achronot newspaper, made the request, or whether Walker could in fact stop translation of the book. At least one version of the book has already appeared in Hebrew translation, in the 1980s. Walker said Israel’s policies were “worse” than the segregation she suffered as an American youth and said South Africans had told her it was worse than apartheid in that country.
The Color Purple, which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was adapted into a movie in 1985 directed by Jewish filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
The novel and the film, which was nominated for 11 Oscars, treat racism in the American South in the first part of the 20th century and sexism among blacks.
Walker has intensified her anti-Israel activism in recent years, travelling to the Gaza Strip to advocate on behalf of the Palestinians.