As a young child living in Park Forest, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago, I vividly remember gathering with the rest of the neighborhood kids as a moving van unloaded the belongings of the first black family to move into our little town. In my innocence, I had no idea that the seven-foot tall wooden fence that was simultaneously being constructed by the neighboring family between the two homes, was because of the skin color of the newcomers. To me, their blackness was an object of genuine curiosity and astonishment. My initial reaction was, “Holy Cow, how did they get so dark?!” I remember considering some of the possibilities in my mind: “Did they stay out in the sun too long?! Is that some kind of special paint? Does it come off in the water?” The youngest son, Chucky Wilson, soon joined our gang of friends, his nickname: The Chocolate Kid.
My mother welcomed the new family with a cake, and she and Mrs. Wilson would walk up and down the street with their baby carriages. Other neighbors warned my mother that if she didn’t stop being so friendly with the colored family someone would burn our house down. At the time my parents had planned to move to the city so we could attend a Jewish elementary school, but they delayed the move for nearly two years so that no one should think we moved out because of the Wilsons. Her courage was rewarded by an award from the NAACP.
While my father was in medical school, my parents lived in the Jane Adams housing project in Chicago. They became close friends with a black couple who also resided there, Ken and Harriet Anderson (Ken was a fellow medical student). The friendship was warm enough that the Andersons named their newborn son, Nathan, after my father. When my parents first moved from the Jane Adams Project to Park Forest, the Andersons came to visit – a visit which provoked angry remarks, hostility, and threats from the neighbors. My mother received a call from one of the local ministers, and I’m ashamed to mention that the local (Reform) Rabbi called my father to tell him that if he associated with these people it would hurt his medical practice. My father replied that he didn’t want people who had a problem with this as his patients anyways.
Although I was only eight years old when I watched the “I Have a Dream” speech on our small black and white TV in our apartment in Chicago in the summer of 1963, the memory is forever emblazoned on my psyche. As much as was possible for an eight year old to be uplifted and inspired by Dr. King’s soaring words, so was its effect on me. Likewise, I recall the shock and horror I experienced as a “mature” ten year old while watching films of the brutal events that took place on “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
Fast forward to June, 2012: Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alice Walker, refuses to allow her book, The Color Purple, to be translated into Hebrew by an Israeli publishing house. The reason? Because – according to Walker – “Israel is guilty of apartheid.” The left-wing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reports that Walker also stated that Israeli policies are “worse” than the segregation she suffered as a child and that South Africans had told her that Israel is worse than South Africa ever was. So strong are her anti-Israel feelings that she participated in the Gaza-flotilla intended to break the “blockade” imposed by Israel on Gaza. From her musings in an article written to explain her participation:“But if they [the Israelis] insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla…what is to be done?” (Needless to say, her subtle yearning for martyrdom was left unfulfilled. It seems that the nasty Israelis only kill flotilla participants who attack them with metal pipes, knives and guns.)
It’s interesting to note that Walker has never had a bad word to say about Hamas, the terrorist organization that was voted into power by Palestinians in Gaza. The reason? Obviously, because Hamas, together with its Palestinian supporters, clearly embody all the principles of love and brotherhood that were espoused by the great civil rights activists of the 1960’s. I ask the reader to pay close attention as we compare the noble concepts that Dr. King spoke about in 1963 and the nearly identical ideas offered in the official charter of Hamas:
- Dr. King: “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”
- Hamas Charter: “Its ultimate goal is Islam, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution. Its special dimension extends wherever on earth there are Muslims, who adopt Islam as their way of life;…The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights.”
- Dr. King: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
- Hamas Charter: “Nothing is loftier or deeper…than waging Jihad against the enemy and confronting him when he sets foot on the land of the Muslims. And this becomes an individual duty binding on every Muslim man and woman; a woman must go out and fight the enemy even without her husband’s authorization, and a slave without his masters’ permission.”
- Dr. King: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
- Hamas Charter: “In the absence of Islam, conflict arises, oppression reigns, corruption is rampant and struggles and wars prevail. Allah had inspired the Muslim poet, Muhammad Iqbal, when he said:
When the Faith wanes, there is no security
There is no this-worldliness for those who have no faith
Those who wish to live their life without religion [i.e. without Islam]
Have made annihilation the equivalent of life
- Dr. King: “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
- Hamas Charter: “And if the People of the Scripture had believed, it had been better for them…most of them are evil-doers. Ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found…They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the Prophets wrongfully…Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors…The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
Seriously, except for minor differences in syntax and style, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two!
Of course, the entire “apartheid” canard is a baseless lie. We Jews have been through this type of very real, very dangerous nonsense before. For nearly a thousand years every good Christian in Europe “knew” with absolute certainty that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood in baking Matzah for Passover. When it comes to Jews, there is no lie that is too outrageous and absurd to be believed.
We all owe a debt to Alice Walker and her cohorts. She illustrates the fundamental truth of Dr. King’s message; that is to say, that there is no real difference at all between white people and black people. She brings to life the most profound idea expressed in Dr. King’s unforgettable speech: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
I solemnly declare to Alice Walker: I do not judge you by the color of your skin. As far as I’m concerned, it is as insignificant as the color of your eyes or hair. I judge you by the content of your character. You have taught us that a woman with black skin can be a vicious, corrupt, lying Jew-hater on par with any white man or woman. You have taught us all that a person with black skin could have participated in the European blood libels and pogroms just as enthusiastically as any white person. You are an object lesson for those of my generation who lived through the great civil-rights battles in the mid-twentieth century in this country. For that I thank you.
Professor Alan Dershowitz has suggested that, “The publisher who had sought permission to publish Walker’s book in Hebrew should simply go ahead and do it—without her permission and over her objection…Her writings should be published in Hebrew, whether she likes it or not, and the royalties should be contributed to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations that understand the true meaning of fighting against bigotry and real apartheid.” I respectfully disagree with Professor Dershowitz. Frankly, I could care less if The Color Purple is published in Hebrew or is ever sold in Israel. Alice Walker can keep her bloody book to herself and drag it back with her under the rock from whence she crawled.
Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. If you wish to be informed when new articles appear, send an email to email@example.com with the email address and the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.