Jew Hatred Again at the 92nd Street Y
Jacob H. Schiff, his son-in-law Felix M. Warburg and Judge Joseph M. Proskauer must all be turning over in their graves at the news that Israel-hater Alice Walker will be a guest at the 92nd Street Y. Nurtured by these "visionary Jewish leaders," the Y claims to be "a proudly Jewish institution that reaches out to people of every race, ethnicity, religion, age, and economic class." Warburg, for example, who lived from 1871-1937 was "devoted to Palestine with all his heart and soul. His interest in what he affectionately called 'that little country of love' antedated Hitler." He would be crushed to hear the venomous words coming from Alice Walker.
And yet, almost 140 years from its inception, the 92nd Street Y has invited the author of The Color Purple, who believes that "Israel egregiously mistreats the Palestinian people" and that "Israel is the greatest terrorist in that part of the world." Moreover, Walker thinks that "in general, the United States and Israel are great terrorist organizations themselves."
What makes an allegedly intelligent writer engage in such patently twisted lies when, in fact, it is the Arab world that promotes terrorism, that engages in apartheid, supports a legal system that discriminates as well as suppresses and oppresses women and engages in slavery in the 21st century?
Yet this wordsmith finds no words to highlight these evils emanating from the Arab world.
Walker has written that [she] wants "the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behavior towards the Palestinians," and she demands that "the people of the United States ...cease acting like they don't understand what is going on. All colonization, all occupation, all repression basically looks the same, whoever is doing it [.]" Yet, Arab imperialism and imposition of dhimmitude on non-Muslims somehow get a free pass.
Walker has been a strong supporter of the Free Gaza flotilla in 2011 and 2012. This Free Gaza Movement demands that Israel return to pre-1967 borders and that Israel's creation in 1948 was a "catastrophe" for the Arab world.
Then "in June 2012, Walker announced that she was refusing to allow the Israeli publisher Yediot Books release a Hebrew translation of her book The Color Purple, because Israel, in her view, was an 'apartheid' state. In a letter to Yediot Books which she posted on the website 'Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel,' Walker characterized Israeli policies as being 'far worse' than those of pre-1960s America." So what would this Pulitzer Prize winner say to these present-day Saudi Arabia signs that are truly reminiscent of the segregation of the 1960s?
Walker maintains that "the non-violent BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement [of which she is a part], will have enough of an impact on Israeli civilian society to change the situation."
How successful is the BDS Campaign against Israel? According to Adam Shay of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, "the BDS movement has very little to show in the way of success regarding sanctions or divestment. However the cultural boycott is a different story." Thus, "[t]he cultural field has proven itself the most successful tier of the boycott movement, when international artists cancel performances in Israel. One reason for bands canceling their scheduled concerts is in order to stop belligerent attacks from BDS operatives. Such attacks vary from bombarding the band's website, Facebook, and Twitter pages to the point that the sites often collapse, to direct threats against the artists personally. Another reason bands cancel their concerts is in order to avoid negative press coverage."
In October 2012, Walker and Roger Waters "attempted to block Carnegie Hall from hosting the Israeli Philharmonic" which was scheduled to perform that month.
If the mission statement of the 92nd Street Y is "to serve the Jewish people" by promoting "individual and family development and participation in civic life within the context of Jewish values and American pluralism" how does Walker's anti-Israel and anti-American stance encourage this?
And in fulfilling its mission, the 92nd Street Y claims that "it will provide a setting in which Jews cultivate and strengthen their Jewish identity; [as well as] affirm its commitment to the State of Israel and to world Jewry." Then the "Y" really needs to delineate very clearly how inviting Walker to speak affirms this commitment?
In 2009 the 92nd Street Y "formed a partnership with Ramat HaSharon, 92Y's sister city in Israel." Also the 92nd Street Y Passport NYC residential camp brings teens from around the world to learn about the film, theater, culinary, and fashion businesses of New York City. Passport NYC joins Havaya, a joint Israel-American summer experience for teens from both countries which was begun in 2008.
How do the Y's leaders rationalize to these Israeli teens that Federation money is used to bring in speakers like Walker? How does Beverly Greenfield, Director of Public and Media Relations at the 92nd Street Y clarify to these Israeli teens that they should not take things personally as their country is bashed by "the color of anti-Semitism?" How does one justify promoting someone like Walker who believes that America "has done a disservice to Israel in not stopping its many war crimes and abuses of humanity?"
Is Walker aware of the health care that Israeli hospitals give to Palestinian children? In fact, the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat Al Jadida recently explained that "[Israeli] Hospital director Weiss said: 'We relate to patients without regard to nationality and religion. We treat Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other nationalities without bias, and 30% of the patients are Palestinians.'" Where is the abuse of humanity, Ms. Walker?
How does the 92nd Street Y explain Walker's assertion during a Yom Kippur service that "Israeli soldiers raped Palestinian women" yet she could offer absolutely not a shred of evidence for this claim?
Walker has written that "Martin Luther King was a leader, a person of conviction" who would find it "difficult to comprehend, as I do, why Obama is incapable of standing up to Israel [.]" Citing Obama, who openly supports the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood and has in the past "join[ed] forces with race hustler Al Sharpton, truly dishonors the memory of Dr. King who wrote that
The response of some of the so-called young militants does not represent the position of the vast majority of Negroes. There are some who are color-consumed and they see a kind of mystique in blackness or in being colored, and anything non-colored is condemned. We do not follow that course.... Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect her right to exist, its territorial integrity and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.
Moreover, when approached by a student who attacked Zionism, Dr. King responded that "when people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism."
So what lies behind Walker's irrational hatred for Jews, especially since she was married to Mel Leventhal, a Jewish lawyer and the son of Holocaust survivors? Her daughter Rebecca Walker explains that her mother is "very ideologically based, and her ideology is much more important in many ways than her personal relationships." Alice Walker also "espoused the radical view that childhood enslaved women" and wrote a poem where she compared her daughter to "various calamities" likening this to offspring that ... impeded the lives of other women writers." The two no longer communicate and Rebecca has been written out of her mother's will.
Walker would deny Israel the right to exist; moreover, she wishes to prohibit Israelis from reading a book in their own language and has worked to exclude a public performance of an Israeli cultural group. Thus, open anti-Zionism and traditional forms of Jew-hatred have merged.
Consequently, the 92nd Street Y needs to be called out, yet again, for their complicity in supporting such an individual who backs the anti-Israel BDS movement. Clearly they see nothing wrong with this advocacy of hatred and fanaticism towards Israel. That there is no outrage indicates that Walker's "statements create an atmosphere in which ever more virulent rhetoric about Israel becomes the norm." The 92nd Street Y cannot claim innocence since anti-Semitism with a literary glow is still anti-Semitism.
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org