Alice Walker: 'How can I let this happen without resistance?'

June 25, 2011
Alice Walker speaks with Palestinian women in Gaza, 2009.

Celebrated US author and poet Alice Walker is among 38 people who will join Audacity of Hope, the ship sponsored by US Boat to Gaza as part of an international effort to break Israel’s maritime siege of  Gaza.

Walker has authored more than thirty books, the best known of which is the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Color Purple.

Speaking to co-founder Ali Abunimah, Walker draws parallels between the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the Freedom Rides during the US civil rights movement in 1961, when black and white people boarded interstate buses together to break the laws requiring racial segregation.

The full interview can be read at .

* * *

You’ve made the connection with the Freedom Rides that happened 50 years ago. Can you talk about  that?

Yes, it means that the baton is being passed on to us of journeying to places in the world where people need us and where our governments are not helpful and in fact are  destructive.

Just before my first year of college, the Freedom Riders came down to the south. I was living in Georgia under intense segregation that white supremacists and many black people assumed would last forever.

They had become extremely complacent after 100 years of brutality and subjugation of black people; and so when the Freedom Riders came down we didn’t expect them to survive.

But we were very grateful because at least it assured us that someone outside of our own community objected to the repression that we endured every day and it meant a lot to us. It lifted our spirits, it gave us courage, it gave us hope.

The government has never said “Oh yes, go out and protest.” It has always said, “we will not support you and you shouldn’t do it and it’s wrong and it’s bad and it’s not good for you.”

But really that’s why you protest.

In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of protests take place of Palestinian refugees marching to the Israeli-controlled frontiers of Palestine and being shot at by Israel. The Israelis have said that they are making preparations to stop the flotilla. What do you think needs to happen? How can we raise awareness in a way that we can mobilise that kind of support for this flotilla and its goal of lifting the blockade?

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. That’s the reality.

So it would be great if media outlets run by people of conscience raised the hue and cry.

And that is why I am steeping myself in the words of the people before me who have been in the same position and who have decided: “Well I love this world ... I love these little children.

“They don’t deserve this. They don’t deserve to be abused; they don’t deserve to be frightened.

“I’m an adult. I’m an elder. So, how can I let this happen to them without some kind of resistance?”

You were previously in Gaza and you wrote an incredibly beautiful short book about it, Overcoming Speechlessness. And you recently were in the West Bank. What was your experience?

Well, the wall [built by Israel that cuts across Palestinian land]. When I was looking at a snippet of the [US] Congress — people applauding [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu — I just had to wonder if they had ever stood in the shadow of that wall.

That wall is such an insult to the soul of humanity. It’s so enormous and threatening. And they are building it right in the faces of people and stealing their land in the process. So not only are they walling in the people but they are taking their land and then shooting at them when they try to work their land so they can have something to eat.

This is such a crime against the soul of humanity. We can’t stand this. Who are we as human beings if we can even bear this? We cannot bear it. And we must not.

And then the other thing was the [illegal Israeli] settlements are huge. They are unlike anything I had expected. And they are everywhere!

And so I realised that this whole long drama, the charade called the peace process, was simply a diversion, a shadow play, so that people wouldn’t realise that there was never going to be any  peace.

It was always about taking the land. Religion had nothing to do with it, or it was used as an excuse.


I would like to congratulate Alice Walker on giving a one-sided perspective of the Israel/Arab conflict by doing everything from twisting facts, leaving out facts, and outright lying. FWIW, I loved the movie "The Color Purple". Too bad she has lost her mind since then.
at Israeli civillians.Hamas even fired a barrage on the very day that the last Israeli left Gaza,just to reinforce their no peace ever message. As a spinner of stories reality does not have to intrude in fact it spoils a good story. Thousands are being killed by Arab despots,racism & opression of minorities is rife,gender apartheid and opression of women is a given.All this has been going on for generations,to the deafenning silence of these self annointed moral giants. So what is the answer? Send a fleet to Gaza.??
Wikipedia "The Hamas Charter (or Covenant), issued in 1988, outlined the organization's position on many issues at the time, identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." The charter states "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories,[41] and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.[68][69] The Charter also asserts that through shrewd manipulation of imperial countries and secret societies, Zionists were behind a wide range of events and disasters going as far back in history as the French Revolution. Among the charter's controversial statements is the following: "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: Oh Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”[40] The document also quotes Islamic religious texts to provide justification for fighting against and killing the Jews of Israel,[70] presenting the Arab-Israeli conflict as an inherently irreconcilable struggle between Jews and Muslims, and Judaism and Islam,[40] adding that the only way to engage in this struggle between "truth and falsehood" is through Islam and by means of jihad, until victory or martyrdom.[40] The Charter adds that "renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion" of Islam.[71] The charter states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they do not block Hamas's efforts.[72] Current Status "
Costs a lot of money to put together a flotilla like this, wonder where its all coming from and for that matter where its going... Imagine if the effort and cash put into this activist holiday / ego stroking media trip was put into a project that actually did something useful.
Well you've got me there. Hamas are "islamofascists" so let's bulldoze all the Palestinians. Hell, they voted for these fascists, so they deserve it right? Hamas, the democratically elected government of Palestine, were founded on a lot of militant islamist rhetoric. You don't need to read Hamas themselves. When they were founded, during the first Intifada, the (secular, socialist) PFLP said of Hamas "In the final analysis, Hamas has, whether consciously or not, contributed to the Israeli occupation's effort to undermine the Intifada." Of course there's been a lot of water under the bridge since 1987 and Hamas have evolved into a more mature political force (certainly a conservative islamist-nationalist one) rather than a group of fundamentalist troublemakers and anti-communists. But that's all by-the-way. What matter Hamas' gnashing their teeth while the IDF routinely demolish Palestinian houses, and whole bedouin villages, with impunity? What can possibly justify their creeping ethnic cleansing? Is it surprising that the people of Gaza, treated like an open-air prison camp, fire off fairly ineffectual rockets? How does that compare to air strikes and a web of settlements, checkpoints, and Israeli-only roads that is cutting the West Bank into shreds?
Get a life, you moron.
It's very clear from this article that the flotilla activists are not at all concerned with delivering aid and their singular objective is to ilicit media condemnation of Israel. Consider that over 30 thousand tonnes of supplies per week are being transferred into Gaza from Israel. Why doesn't the flotilla deliver aid through Israel? Alternatively, aid could be delivered through Egypt. The Turkish foreign minister has said "Civic groups should take into account the fact that the Rafah crossing (between Gaza and Egypt) has been opened and… act in a more careful manner." Consider that Turkey rates worse than Gaza in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality, access to the internet. Perhaps the flotilla could just do a u-turn if it really was focussed on human development? Why does the flotilla single out Israel for condemnation and extraordinary, disproportionate coverage relative to much more severe humanitarian crises in China, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Nigeria, and a long list of other nations? Are the flotilla activists genuinely trying to deliver aid, or are they trying to provoke Israel into a confrontation on the high seas in an effort to delegitimise a two-state solution and Israel's right to exist? The analogy to the Freedom Rides is disingenuous. Arab, Christian, Druze, Bahai, women, homosexuals all enjoy freedoms within Israel that are unimaginable in Gaza or anywhere else in the Middle East. That's on the Israeli side. Nobody is proposing that Gaza residents should become citizens of Israel. The two state solution is premised on two states for two people. Meanwhile, on the Gaza side of the fence, there is violent suppression of political dissidence, indoctination of children to violence, incitement against homosexuals, oppression of women. A better analogy to the Freedom Rides would be to take activist steps to oppose Hamas rule in Gaza.

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