Anti-Israel Author Disinvited by University

University of Michigan disinvites author Alice Walker, who compares Israel to Nazi Germany. Was money a factor?

Maayana Miskin ,

writer Alice Walker
writer Alice Walker

The University of Michigan has disinvited author Alice Walker from giving a speech at the anniversary celebration for the university’s Center for the Education of Women.

According to Walker, the invitation was rescinded due to pressure from donors offended by her virulently anti-Israel views.

In a blog post, she quoted her agent as saying, “This afternoon I was contacted by the University of Michigan instructing me to withdraw their invitation due to the removal of funding from the donors, because of their interpretation of Ms. Walker’s comments regarding Israel. They are not willing to fund this program and the university/Women’s center do not have the resources to finance this on their own.”

She titled the post, “In Case You’ve Ever Wondered How It Is Done: Censorship by Purse String.”

However, a university source told the Electronic Intifada blog that the change had nothing to do with donor pressure.

“As director of the Center for the Education of Women (CEW), I decided to withdraw our invitation because I didn’t think Ms. Walker would be our optimum choice for our 50th anniversary. Our 50th anniversary funding is assured. All donations, for this and other events, are accepted with no provisos or prohibitions regarding free speech,” wrote director Gloria Thomas.

Walker has expressed extremist anti-Israel opinions over the years. In 2011 she gave an interview to Electronic Intifada in which she said of Israelis, “I think that we are dealing with people of high irrationality, to put it really kindly… The facts are that we are dealing with some very brutal people; people indoctrinated over a long period of time. And a military that obviously is insensitive to the sufferings of other people.”

In 2009, she wrote of meeting an elderly Arab woman in Gaza. “She was clean and impeccably dressed, the kind of old woman who is known and loved and respected by everyone in the community... Looking into my eyes she said: May God Protect You From the Jews. When the young Palestinian interpreter told me what she’d said, I responded: It’s too late, I already married one,” Walker wrote.

“I said this partly because, like so many Jews in America, my former husband could not tolerate criticism of Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians,” she continued.

Walker went on to condemn her ex-husband’s family for objecting to their marriage. “These were people who knew how to hate, and how to severely punish others, even those beloved, as he was, of their own,” she concluded.

Walker took her hostility to Israel in a new level in her latest book, “The Cushion in the Road,” in which she described Israeli policy as “genocide” and links the alleged evils of modern-day Israel to Jewish values and to the Torah. She also repeatedly compared modern Israel to Nazi Germany.

“The brutal domination and colonization of all ‘others’ is still front and center in Israel’s behavior today,” she claimed in the book.