|Alice Walker in 1989|
Walker has managed to recapture a moment of attention for herself recently with the very public, if not particularly significant gesture of denying the right of an Israeli publisher to translate her book The Color Purple into Hebrew. Ostensibly, her reasoning is that it would be some sort of punishment for Israel's "oppression" of the Palestinians.
On the surface, the preference for Palestinian culture that is not democratic has no free speech, that discriminates against women and persecutes gays and teaches its children to hate and kill over a free democracy seems irrational.
But it doesn't take much examination of Alice Walker's background to see that she presents as a stereotype of a scorned, bitter woman driven by personal demons and resentment of people she feels wronged her rather than a passionate crusader for a misdirected sense of social justice. Not having written anything that has come close to matching The Color Purple, she comes off as desperate to regain the limelight. But with her flash in the pan literary talents waning, the only way she can command headlines now is through clownish stunt activism.
In the 1960's when such unions in the United States were rare and in some places illegal, Walker was in an interracial marriage with a white Civil Rights lawyer named Mel Leventhal. As his surname suggests, Leventhal was Jewish and the marriage ended in divorce when their daughter Rebecca was eight years old.
In that context, it could easily be viewed that Walker's hatred for Israel is really a transfer of her hate for her ex-husband in a venue that is more socially acceptable in rad-chic circles. If that sounds far-fetched, consider this account from Walker:
"I gave her [an old Palestinian woman] a gift I had brought, and she thanked me. 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. I said this partly because, like so many Jews inAdding to the full picture of Alice Walker is the account of her daughter Rebecca, who wrote of being the only child of a woman who despised motherhood. Walker feels that motherhood is a 'form of slavery' and one can only imagine the sorrowful childhood that Rebecca Walker must have had being raised by a woman who clearly resented her maternal role.
America, my former husband could not tolerate criticism of ’s behavior toward the Palestinians Israel
Although I knew what my mother felt about babies, I still hoped that when I told her I was pregnant, she would be excited for me.
Instead, when I called her one morning in the spring of 2004, while I was at one of her homes housesitting, and told her my news and that I'd never been happier, she went very quiet. All she could say was that she was shocked. Then she asked if I could check on her garden. I put the phone down and sobbed - she had deliberately withheld her approval with the intention of hurting me. What loving mother would do that?
Worse was to follow. My mother took umbrage at an interview in which I'd mentioned that my parents didn't protect or look out for me. She sent me an e-mail, threatening to undermine my reputation as a writer. I couldn't believe she could be so hurtful - particularly when I was pregnant.
Devastated, I asked her to apologise and acknowledge how much she'd hurt me over the years with neglect, withholding affection and resenting me for things I had no control over - the fact that I am mixed-race, that I have a wealthy, white, professional father and that I was born at all.
But she wouldn't back down. Instead, she wrote me a letter saying that our relationship had been inconsequential for years and that she was no longer interested in being my mother. She even signed the letter with her first name, rather than 'Mom'.What emerges is a portrait of someone who portrays herself as a social justice champion, but is really an awful human being. Having demonstrated some literary talent decades earlier doesn't pave over Walker`s being an unpleasant narcissist acting out her personal resentments and pathological need for constant attention.
Indeed that would make her completely typical of the neo-leftist radicals who act out their personal issues in their very public hatred of Israel.
Rebecca Walker wrote about her mother Alice, " She finds it impossible to step out of the limelight." But the limelight has veered away from Alice Walker for some time. Her desperation to have it illuminate her again has led to an examination that shows her to be a rather poor specimen of humanity.