Alice Walker Refuses to Publish ‘The Color Purple’ in Israel

6.20.2012

By Alex Panisch

The Pulitzer-winning author cites Israel’s treatment of Palestinians

Alice Walker, the author of the American classic “The Color Purple,” has refused to allow a Hebrew language version of her novel be published in Israel, according to an AP article from the Washington Post. Though her book has appeared in Hebrew before, Walker sent a letter to publisher Yediot Books, citing Israel’s “apartheid” against the Palestinian people as the basis for her decision. She wrote that Israel, where our staff at Out is currently on a fact-finding mission, will have to change its policies before she will allow her work to be published in the state.

Walker is a fervent pro-Palestinian activist: Last year she was a passenger on the second Turkish flotilla that tried to break through Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip (the first one was attacked by the Israeli government, resulting in nine passanger deaths. The second attempt was also unsuccessful.

“I would so like knowing my books are read by the people of your country, especially by the young and by the brave Israeli activists (Jewish and Palestinian) for justice and peace I have had the joy of working beside,” Walker wrote in the letter to Yediot Books. “I am hopeful that one day, maybe soon, this may happen. But now is not the time.”

Netta Gurevich, the chief editor of Yediot Books, says she regretted Walker’s choice, especially "...when talking about The Color Purple, a book that addresses discrimination, otherness and the importance of the individual’s struggle against injustice in general.” Gurevich says Walker isn’t the first writer to refuse to have works published in Israel.

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