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September 24, 2016 / 21 Elul, 5776
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Pro-Israel New Yorkers Protest 92nd St Y’s anti-Israel Speaker

Richard Allen of JCC Watch said, "There has been a pattern - first with [BDS activist] Roger Waters and now with Alice Walker. All of our efforts to speak with the 92nd Street Y administrators have been met with closed doors, closed ears and closed minds."

Alice Walker sparred with protesters outside the 92nd Street Y on May 30, 2013, telling them about Israel, "it wasn't your land."

Alice Walker sparred with protesters outside the 92nd Street Y on May 30, 2013, telling them about Israel, "it wasn't your land."
Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Walker was insistent that the land of Israel does not belong to the Jews, but was given to them by the United Nations.  And she insisted that the land already belonged to someone else – the Arab Palestinians.  Repeated efforts by protesters to inform her otherwise fell on deaf ears.

One man wearing an orange cap repeatedly tried to inform her that the “land is ours,” but Walker refused, at one point screwing up her face and asking, “Are you going to tell me God gave it to you? That you are special and nobody else is?” Her interlocutor, however, tried to determine whether Walker was familiar with the San Remo Resolution or the Balfour Declaration.

Walker’s response? “I don’t care what it says.”

The San Remo Resolution was a reference to the 1920 San Remo conference at which World War I allies affirmed the 1917 Balfour Declaration pledging the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

Walker continued to engage with the protesters, although she became increasingly flustered.  At one point one of the protesters said to Walker, “you are a hater and a liar.”

“The names that you call me don’t matter,” responded Walker.  “The truth stands.”  “Is it right for you to take other people’s property? You are encroaching on other people’s property.  You are taking more than they gave you.”

“And how about the suicide bombers,” another protester responded to Walker. “They are taking lives!”

“Suicide bombers are wrong,” Walker acknowledged, “but one wrong does not deserve another.  It is also wrong to deny people common decency and health.”

And so the two sides continued asserting their own views until Walker made her way past the protesters and into the welcoming arms of the 92nd Street Y.

Allen of JCC Watch told The Jewish Press the morning after the Walker event that his organization will be kicking off a “Close Your Wallets” campaign.

“We will be watching those institutions supported by Jewish charitable donations which host anti-Israel programming,” Allen promised. “We want to know who is responsible for this kind of programming?  Who is pushing this agenda?”  And, he added, “if the Y won’t stop it, will the UJA-Federation stop funding them?”

Allen echoed a comment made by Sidi, “this isn’t about free speech, no one is saying Walker can’t say whatever she wants, however false and hateful it is, but we don’t have to subsidize it.  And we want people to know this is happening with their money.”

Late Friday afternoon Alicia Keys announced her rejection of Walker’s effort to recruit her into the anti-Israel Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement, in which Walker plays a prominent role. Keys told the New York Times, “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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