Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and author of such classics as The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar, has been harshly criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for her book of essays, The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Be in Harm’s Way (The New Press, 2013). Included in the book is an 80-page discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Alice Walker has sunk to new lows with essays that remove the gloss of her anti-Israel activism to reveal someone who is unabashedly infected with anti-Semitism,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “She has taken her extreme and hostile views to a shocking new level, revealing the depth of her hatred of Jews and Israel to a degree that we have not witnessed before. Her descriptions of the conflict are so grossly inaccurate and biased that it seems Walker wants the uninformed reader to come away sharing her hate-filled conclusions that Israel is committing the greatest atrocity in the history of the world.”
On her website, Walker responded, “To say that anyone who criticizes this violence is ‘anti-Semitic’ is truly warped. Besides, it turns out that the Arabs, the Palestinians, are Semites, and that perhaps 94 per cent of Jews, the Askenazi who hail from ancient Kharzaria in the Caucusus, are not.” Walker’s husband from 1967 to their divorce in 1976, was Melvyn Rosenman Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer.
Walker attended Spelman College but transferred and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. She has served on the faculty at Jackson State University and Tougaloo College.