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June 20, 2012 7:30 am

Israeli Publisher Calls Alice Walker’s Decision “Unfortunate”

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The cover of "The Color Purple," by Alice Walker. Credit: PD.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker’s refusal to allow Yediot Books to publish The Color Purple in Hebrew was “an unfortunate position” because literature is “an important tool in building inter-cultural bridges by presenting the character of the ‘other’ and by creating an atmosphere of tolerance and compassion,” according to Yediot’s head editor Neta Gurevich.

“This is all the more so when it has to do with the book The Color Purple, which handles issues of discrimination, diversity, and the importance of the individual’s fight against general injustice,” Gurevich said in a Hebrew statement translated by JNS.org.

Walker, in a letter to Yediot posted on the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel’s website, wrote that her decision was based on the determination of last fall’s Russell Tribunal on Palestine that Israel “is guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people, both inside Israel and also in the Occupied Territories.”

The Color Purple focuses on female black life in the southern U.S. during the 1930s. Walker, highlighting her activism in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, explained that she also lobbied against director Steven Spielberg offering the film on her book in South Africa because “as with Israel today, there was a civil society movement of BDS aimed at changing South Africa’s apartheid policies and, in fact, transforming the government.”

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