Latest update: December 30th, 2013
Just a couple months ago The Jewish Press followed a spectacle created by the 92nd Street Y – the former “Young Mens Hebrew Association” – when it publicly embarrassed itself by welcoming a leader in the economic and political warfare effort against Israel known as the BDSM – the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions Against Israel Movement.
Once pro-Israel supporters of the 92nd St Y got wind that Roger Waters, the aging rocker of Pink Floyd fame, was going to be using the Y platform to spew his anti-Israel invective, emails began ricocheting across the internet, angry phone calls were placed and, eventually, the Y leaped at the opportunity to be able to say “so sorry, that date won’t work” when Waters tried to change the date of his appearance.
You’d think the outrage sparked in the pro-Israel community when the Y, which holds itself out as a center for Jewish life that offers learning opportunities, multigenerational holiday celebrations, and “talks on a broad range of Jewish topics encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own special meaning in Jewish tradition and find joy in Jewish life and culture” was forced to retreat from hosting an Israel hater would cure the institution from pouring the same bucket of anti-Israel slime over its edifice.
But you’d be wrong.
Because guess who’s coming to dinner next?
Alice Walker, a fading superstar author of the 1983 classic The Color Purple, but one who has re-energized and enlarged her audience with the sure-fire appeal of spewing anti-Israel venom, is scheduled to appear at the Y on Thursday, May 30. Walker is scheduled to appear with Eve Ensler, activist and author of the Vagina Monologues, to talk “about her activism and her writing, her conflicting impulses to retreat into inner contemplation and to remain deeply engaged with the world.”
A key part of Walker’s “deep engagement with the world” has been her very vocal and categorical opposition to Israel. Walker regularly refers to Israeli “Apartheid practices” and its “persecution of the Palestinian people.” In a 2012 interview with Democracy Now!, Walker accused Israel of “stealing so much Palestinian land, they have essentially stolen all of Palestine.”
In the summer of 2011, Walker joined the second flotilla to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza aboard a ship named The Audacity of Hope. In an interview with Foreign Policy, Walker claimed that Israel is the biggest terrorist in the Middle East.
I think Israel is the greatest terrorist in that part of the world. And I think in general, the United States and Israel are great terrorist organizations themselves. If you go to Gaza and see some of the bombs — what’s left of the bombs that were dropped — and the general destruction, you would have to say, yeah, it’s terrorism. When you terrorize people, when you make them so afraid of you that they are just mentally and psychologically wounded for life — that’s terrorism. So these countries are terrorist countries.
Her hatred of Israel is so great that Walker has refused to allow her book, The Color Purple, to be translated into Hebrew.
Walker’s first husband, Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal, was a Jewish civil rights lawyer.
And just to bring this story back to the beginning and tie it up in a bow, Alice Walker was front and center with Roger Waters as the two of them attempted to block Carnegie Hall from hosting the Israeli Philharmonic in October, 2012.
Both artists signed a letter which stated, in part, that they “are conscientious artists who support justice, human rights, equality, and democracy in the Middle East and around the world. Consequently, we are dismayed by Carnegie Hall’s upcoming October 2012 hosting of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The IPO is an organization that whitewashes Israel’s ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians. We call on Carnegie Hall to cancel the IPO’s upcoming October performance.”
If Walker was comfortable boycotting Israeli musicians because of their beliefs, surely she will be supportive if the 92nd Street Y decided not to provide a stage for her because of her hostility towards Israel.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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