Overcoming Speechlessness

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Alice Walker talks about her trips to Rwanda and the eastern Congo to witness the aftermath of the genocide in Kigali, and to the Gaza Strip. In Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and Palestine/Israel, she bears witness to cruelty she saw, and presents the stories of suffering from the individuals she encountered.

Event: Alice Walker will be in conversation with Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now and she’ll be signing books
Tuesday, April 13, 8:00 pm
92nd St Y
1395 Lexington Ave at 92nd Street


Alice Walker

Comments [89]


With all due respect to her literary accomplishments and regardless of her opinionated delivery, not only is Ms. walker clearly not a scholar on the matters discussed, she is also very mal informed on the basic facts of the regions in question. She seems to posses little actual knowledge and plenty of naivety mixed with a strong agenda. This is not usually the type of guest invited on this show to give their opinion on how to solve middle east crisis(one state? really?). I wonder why such an exception was made for Ms. Walker.

Apr. 16 2010 03:25 PM
Opal from Manhattan

I remember a talk by Stokely Carmichael in Houston during his "Black Power" period when Africa was greatly suffering from colonialism. I paraphrase. He said no peoples can be free unless they have their own land. A few paragraphs later he refers to Israel as a colonial country. This is either hypocrisy or a blindness.
I must say I do not agree with many Israeli policies (just as I have not agreed with U.S. policy). Peoples have been moved off their land from time immemorial, in more recent history most Muslims left India and became Pakistanis. America is a land where peoples have created new lives. Jews have been deported from most of the Arabic countries. I reiterate, they started new lives. I am a firm believer in affirmative action. When minority children get a decent education perhaps we won't need affirmative action. I reiterate, Israel has always been the spiritual homeland of the Jews--I care nothing about Biblical rhetoric. The Jews needed an independent country because no country lifted a finger while they were being slaughtered mercilessly by the millions, this after centuries of pogroms. The Jews took a sliver of land from the Arabs who have vast lands. The Palestinians have the most precious thing--life. There has to be a will to change their situation. It is false pride and lack of pity for what happened to the Jews that make so intransigent.

Apr. 15 2010 03:50 PM
Rob from East Village

it's a call to consciousness...
shouting antisemitism at the hint of any Israeli government criticism is losing its effect.
A tactic to put the accused on the defensive,
instead of taking a hard look at oneself.
There is a strong peace movement in Israel that support the 1967 borders & see the expansion of settlements & control of occupied territory as

Apr. 15 2010 12:50 PM
paul from new York, ny

Ms. Walker is an accomplished writer; unfortunately, she displays a lack of historical knowledge, illogic, tendentious reasoning, and a disturbing selective compassion.

Apr. 15 2010 12:21 PM
jay from Harlem

I must admit that I do not know enough of the "real" history of Palestine and the background for its partitioning to create Israel to weigh in on that aspect. I shall endeavor to educate myself in the days to come, although I fear that my education will have no bearing on what the politicians will do in the future. Surely, though, it must be axiomatic that if you take something from someone you owe them something in return and that can't be a "lesser" something. I just wonder if Ralph Bunche's soul is cringing wherever it may be.
But my main comment here goes to the disgraceful, bordering on the offensive, manner in which LL treated Ms. Walker and her remarks regarding the petitioning. His prejudices and biases were so obvious, but to her credit all Ms. Walker asked was for the opportunity to "finish" her point. Leonard, take a lesson from this so we can keep listening and celebrate your next anniversary with pride.

Apr. 14 2010 02:44 AM
non-voter from manhattan

I wonder what kind of a response did she get at 92Y tonight.

Even on air, doxastic attitude can't help interrupting her.

Apr. 14 2010 02:00 AM
Alex from Long Island, NY

The reason Leonard Lopate moved the discussion to African oppression is:
1) Ms. Walker kept to her talking points about oppressed Palestine but did not deal with UN established borders.

2) Because the oppression in Africa is so real it hurts.

To compare the plight of Palestinians who were offered land, a state, and instead turned to Intafada is a joke.

Yes Palestinians are suffering, but that is due more to their own leadership not willing to actually lead.

Just look at Gaza. Israel left, let them have their own country, even left whole farms and infrastructure. What did Israel get? A terrorist state on its border that started bombing them.

Sorry but Ms. Walker's crocadile tears for the Palestinans is NOT Anti-Semitism, but it is a total distortion of the facts on the ground.

NOTE: Most of "Palestine" before Israel was completely barren land, unpopulated, unfarmed, and poor.

Apr. 14 2010 01:56 AM
Roslyn Williams from Brooklyn, New York

Thank you Alice Walker for your words and you speak for me.

Apr. 14 2010 01:46 AM
Manhattan resident from NYC

I totally agree with Voter from Brooklyn. Shame on you Leonard Lopate. You could not even make pretense to open discussion with Walker on this show. , As a Jew I find it profoundly sad that when the subject of Israel's invasion of Gaza comes up you cannot manage a civilized two-way discussion, let alone an interview. It's representative of the knee-jerk closed-mindedness that allows Israel to continue to oppress an impoverished and long-suffering population. And yes, i was astonished that you so quickly moved the conversation to injustices in Africa. Cringe is right.

Apr. 14 2010 01:15 AM
sanych from NJ

Walker's interview and comments on this forum are yet another proof that ignorance and antisemitism go hand-in-hand.

Antisemites' hatred of Jews does not allow them to learn about Arab/Israel conflict. They use this ignorance and the falsehoods as a further approval of their antisemitism. And so on ...

And it is antisemitism - hatred of Jews, not anti-semitism - hatred of Semites.

Apr. 14 2010 12:10 AM
JB from Connecticut

It is really refreshing to hear Ms. Walker talk about her experience with the Isreali/Palestinian conflict. Finally, someone had the courage to talk about the Palestinians suffering on the media. She was right, it is clear that Isreal doesn't want the peace. Justs go back to the recent events of building new camps. Jews and Palestinians were leaving peacefully in Palestine way before Israel was created. There is no reason to keep justifying what Israel is doing to the Plestinians nowadays because Jews were the victims of the Holocaust. It happened more than 50 years ago. Enough already. Stay strong Ms. Walker!

Apr. 13 2010 10:52 PM
ten years ago

In 2000 Hamas sent a wave of suicide bombers into Israel in the middle of what looked like real growing momentum towards peace between Israel and the longtime Palestinian leadership headed by Arafat.

Apr. 13 2010 06:31 PM
Leah from Queens

blah, blah, anti-semitism, blah, blah, Palestinian suffering, blah, blah, the UN, ,blah,blah, one/two state solution, blah, blah, we suffered more! no! we suffered more!blah, blah, the Torah told me so, blah, blah, that's not in my holy book, blah, blah, insert here -------, blah, blah,------

Apr. 13 2010 03:21 PM
Joe Adams from Bergen County, New Jersey

I didn't hear the overrated Walker shed her crocodile tears for the almost 1 million Jews living in Arab countries who had to flee for their lives. The conditions under which they were living were far worse than the Arabs in Israel. I discovered long ago that usually when people like Walker are accused of being anti-Semitic it is because they are.

Apr. 13 2010 03:01 PM
CH from Manhatan

Why should Montana and Alaska have any bearing on US politics.. small "powerless" states? This is an argument where one almost does not know where to begin to address it. Basically its a comparison flaw in logic.

Apr. 13 2010 02:40 PM
Mike from Inwood

[73]: "But when the UN finally becomes a true United Nations and declares that the 1967 borders should be upheld and then tries too fairly evaluate the Palestinians rights?"

The UN as it stands today is a collection of small powerless states whose votes can be bought with aid money. Why should a Belhium have the same standing as India, when one is so fewer people. There is no fair and moral place to discuss injustice and remedies.

Apr. 13 2010 02:33 PM
CH from Manhatan

Are we trying to say that the UN as it was constituted in 1948 and was basically a European colonialist club which said nothing about Jim Crow in the USA , South African Naziism, and the treatment of native people's around the world are we saying that THAT UN was a moral standard to be respected? But when the UN finally becomes a true United Nations and declares that the 1967 borders should be upheld and then tries too fairly evaluate the Palestinians rights? THat UN is wrong? You cant have it both ways... By the way the bible (torah) is not my moral, historical or spiritual wikipedia and definitely is not fact.

Apr. 13 2010 02:23 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

Palestinian Conflict For Beginners is
one place to start in trying to learn
about how all this got started and the
UK, USA role in it.

Apr. 13 2010 02:20 PM
DAT from Nathan Straus Projects

IDF order will enable mass
deportation from West Bank
By Amira Hass

I think, that if Israel carries out the
mass deportation of Palestinians from the
Westbank, because they don't have the right
papers, Israel cannot call itself a Democratic

Apr. 13 2010 02:18 PM
rachel from manhattan

an interesting website that has been invaluably informative for people who would like to hear BOTH sides of the story:

Apr. 13 2010 02:18 PM
Alex from Long Island, NY

Thank you Leonard Lopate for challenging Ms. Walker on her one sided intransience. Considering her bias from her husband, I don’t think she even once considered the Israel argument and that is a shame. Her husband was wrong to scream anti-Semitism if you criticize Israel. Israel’s position does NOT need the moniker of anti-Semitism, as it is a position that should be modeled by any state that is attacked by its neighbors.

Israel is clearly under attack from all sides and any nation should respond 10x more aggressively then Israel to such provocations. Look at Russia in Chechnya, Saudi Arabia with the Hulun tribe, US with Afghanistan, Turkey and the Kurds and the list goes on and on.

Israel is a state as is Jordan, Iraq, and much of the British Mandate partitions. 2/3 of all “Palestinian” land is in Jordan, but Ms. Walker failed to mention the Palestinian sovereignty when the “oppression” is from another Arab state.

The two state solution is the right way to go. If she thinks that a one state solution is the answer maybe Israel and Jordan should merge and then all Palestinians will be united once and for all.

Apr. 13 2010 02:18 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

#59 and anyone else who cares
The PDF names did not come through in my post, they are “10s1263.pdf” and “10s1261.pdf” respectively… just replace the “10” at each address with the full PDF name.

Apr. 13 2010 02:16 PM
Mike from Inwood

[64]: "The REBELLIOUS JEWS... that does not account for 99% of jews being OUTSIDE of Israel."

The Romans begam expelling the Jews after the rebellion of 65-70 AD. The Roman Empire did not fall until hundreds after. Read the beginning of Benny Morrison "The Birth of the Palestinan Refugee Problem" where he documents how Palestinians sold their land to European Zionists for many times its worth and then organized their neighbor to drive them out.

I don't really care whether you want Israel to stand or fall. I don't want to convince you of anything; I'm just pointing out that your argument is specious.

Apr. 13 2010 02:12 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

#59 Susan from NJ,
The United States is at war with Iraq and Afghanistan with Pakistan being a major player in the Afghani situation. That is why vast sums of US taxpayer dollars are going to these three countries as enticements to protect American lives and win “hearts and minds”.
End of life care counseling and family planning that included elective termination were expunged from the healthcare bill because of the ‘“line item veto” over where our tax dollars are spent’. It’s also occasionally trotted around as one of the reasons I cannot get a secular civil marriage, but I do get to subsidize people so they can tell me all the ways I’m going to hell, so I guess it balances out.
Please refer to the following PDFs on US foreign aid from the US Census Bureau adjusting for wartime status and population and then comment on how tax payer dollars are spent.
US Foreign Aid and Military Aid by Major Recipient Country:
US Government Foreign Grants and Credits by Country:

Apr. 13 2010 02:08 PM
Julia from NYC

Thank you, Leonard Lopate and staff, for Alice Walker's segment today. Thank you, Alice, for your words.

I happen to agree with Ms. Walker. In a two-sided conflict, there is no way one side can have greater land mass control and access, advanced weapons and powerful Western backing, and then pretend like the fight is anything like fair. There is a definite media bias.


I am African-American and not Jewish, but I cannot pretend that I don't feel terrified when I think of the Holocaust.

Leonard was not his normal self during that interview (insofar as I understand him), but I don't think it's his "fault," per se. I don't think Ms. Walker's statements make her anti-semitic. The comments on this board, to me, are mainly an indication as to how deeply this issue hits a very personal, burning place for some.

The suffering on both sides is very palpable, to me.

Our hope lies in our ability as a species to see the side of The Other, whomever The Other might be.

Apr. 13 2010 02:08 PM
CH from Manhatan

To Mike from Inwood: "The Romans did disperse the rebellious Jews to assert their control over that part of the empire"

The REBELLIOUS JEWS... that does not account for 99% of jews being OUTSIDE of Israel. And it does not explain why the "Rebellious" jews did not return AFTER the "fall" of Rome. MY comparison to Native Americans still stands.. You have not addressed that point because the implications are obvious. The Palestinians show how people who REALLY belong to a land defend and stand by it. AGAIN, you seem to get so emotionally peaked by my revelation of this fact that you IGNORE my overriding principle.. The deed was done .. Israel should not be destroyed , but the expansion has to stop and Palestinians must have their rights made whole. I see you ignore my praise of Israel conveniently.

Apr. 13 2010 02:03 PM
Tuan from NJ

I did not really think of a "one state" solution until Ms Walker brought it up.

While a two-state solution appears like a good solution "short-term", is it the "right solution"?

I am not an expert. But it would seem that reaching a one-state solution would eventually result from tremendous healing which also means security and peace. Where as a two-state solution would mean inequality, continued animosity, and less security for a very long time. Yes, I know, it is not "easy". But why bash those who advocate a one-state solution when "morally" it is better vs it not being "possible" due to people's bigotry?

Too bad religion cannot help resolve such worldly divisions.

Apr. 13 2010 01:53 PM
Mike from Inwood

[59]: "Furthermore, Ms. Walker's tax dollars go to a lot of objectionable places, including Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan. There is no reason why Israel should stand out for her "cost-cutting" endeavors. We would all like to have a "line-item veto" over where our tax dollars are spent. That's not the way our system works."

Probably including arts grants to Ms Walker.

Apr. 13 2010 01:48 PM
A listener

I enjoyed this interview -- for all the wrong reasons.

Leonard Lopate is usually so smug and insufferable. It was even more fun to lose his cool over his biases.

Thank you, Ms. Walker, for challenging him and our national media bias.

Apr. 13 2010 01:47 PM
Mike from Inwood

[51]: "This group of people are suffering...plain & simple...what are you doing to help them."

What have they done to help themselves? 60 plus years of their 'eye for an eye' mentality hasn't made much progress and has so hardened the Israelis with fear that it has precluded the one-state solution.

Apr. 13 2010 01:46 PM
Susan from NJ

Where does Alice Walker want all the Jews living in Israel to go? Into the sea?
Furthermore, Ms. Walker's tax dollars go to a lot of objectionable places, including Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan. There is no reason why Israel should stand out for her "cost-cutting" endeavors. We would all like to have a "line-item veto" over where our tax dollars are spent. That's not the way our system works.
A day after Yom Hashoah was commemorated, it's a disgrace to hear this kind of Israel-bashing.
My parents wandered throughout Europe from 1939-1950 because, even after WW2, no one wanted to take in the Jewish refugees who survived the war. I would very much like to see the discussion at 92nd St. Y tonight. I hope that Ms. Walker learns some history or, at the very least, some sensitivity.

Apr. 13 2010 01:45 PM
Mike from Inwood

[44]: You are simply factually incorrect. The Romans did disperse the rebellious Jews to assert their control over that part of the empire. That said, the history of the Middle East is filled with people of every description both expelling and being expelled.

Apr. 13 2010 01:42 PM
kbinps from park slope

I am neither Jewish or Palestinian. I don't have a dog in this fight. But looking at this with no personal stake I have come to have a real distaste for the way Jewish Americans defend Israel. The fact is that dispite what has been said here the news is very biased toward Israel. Anyone who questions Israel is cut off at the knees. Witness the remarks posted here. Witness also Jimmy Carter's book. Having seen this debate from my viewpoint I tned to recoil from such talk. Saying things like 1400 Palestinians killed versus 20 Israelis is just a factor of bad aim just strikes me as repugnant and is not going to make me embrace your side. Quite frankly I see a lot of thuggery displayed in many of the comments here. It's not going to sway me to your side.

Apr. 13 2010 01:42 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

#47 smerfry,
I didn’t really want to get into the substance of this Israeli/Palestinian debate but…
One side has rock throwing, suicide bombers, automatic weapons, RPGs, and medium-range rockets without navigation systems within confined and perpetually guarded borders on all sides… The other side is a nuclear state with the best armaments money can buy including but not limited to advanced weapons systems with navigation, fighter jets and war ships. It’s slightly more than am matter of who can shoot straight.

Apr. 13 2010 01:39 PM
Louise from NYC

Ms. Walker is right, this issue needs to be discussed openly and fairly. Israeli always screams "anit-semitism" rather than look at the problem honestly and fairly.
The Isareli's have clearly replicated the arpathid regime of South Africa, they have pushed Palestinians into territories so that they don't have a vote where it counts. They have even gotten American zealots to go in to these unauthorized settlements in an occupied terriortory. Taking the land away from the people born there and competing with them, the born Palestian children get NO citizenship, are considered refugees, yet the recent (since the 1980's) Eastern Europeans get full rights/citizneship. How crazy is that?!
We must remember that the United States is a secular nation. Israel is a religous state. We are fundamentally totally different countries. We cannot give Israel blanket protection, we are not there to further the national interest of another state, particularly a religous state. As a democracy we protect the rights of everyone and PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF MINORITIES, this is one of the most important tenants of democaracy--that it cannot be a tiereny of the majority over the monority. Israel is clearly a tierney of the majority.
We must remember that we are a fair nation and stop supporting Israel, a religous state with our tax dollars. It has to be a two way street. What has Israel given the United States? The US giving Israel blanket protection is one of the main reasons we are hated by half the world. We, the US, must step back and review this from time to time. Fairly.

Apr. 13 2010 01:32 PM
hjs from 11211

war without end.

someone must be gettting rich off this.

Apr. 13 2010 01:27 PM

One state solution? That comment in and of itself shows how little she understands about what is happening between the Palestinans and Israelis.

Apr. 13 2010 01:24 PM


"Question the quiet places" - Alice Walker

Apr. 13 2010 01:23 PM
Josh from East Village

Opal & Gary... your argument is at it's base racist. She comes from a position of empathy for the greater whole that is suffering in that area.
Just as she would have spoken against the genocide of Jews by the Nazis she now speaks of the slow genocide of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. You speak of the Palestinians as Untermensch, though tell me what is the difference between the chosen people & the master race?
This group of people are suffering...plain & simple...what are you doing to help them.

Apr. 13 2010 01:22 PM
Tuan from NJ

Thank-you Ms Walker on the book and speaking your thoughts. There are several threads you made I hope people would self-examine.

1. The more one group tries to silence one side, the more investigation there should be.

2. Follow the money.

I travel a lot. The only place I can get the other side really is outside the US. This is not good for any democracy.

Apr. 13 2010 01:21 PM
Brad R from Brooklyn

I tuned in partway through the Alice Walker interview. I heard her provide an indictment of Israel, claiming that the Jews remaining after the Holocaust settled Palestine, taking Palestinian land unjustly. However, Leonard then provided historical context, discussing how the British ruled the Mandate, and could have resolved the problem early on, mentioning that the Arab states declared war on Israel after she declared her independence. I think the more rational point of view is the one that takes history into account, instead of portraying the conflict simplistically as one between the powerful Israelis and the powerless Palestinians. It surprised me, too, that Ms. Walker talked about the foundation of the State of Israel in a negative way just a day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I felt grateful for the defense that Mr. Lopate provided.

Apr. 13 2010 01:20 PM

Voter -- the problem here is a listening (or commenters reading anybody else's comments) one. None are present. I agree with you in a way, the Ombudsman or program director might have a role to play here.

Apr. 13 2010 01:20 PM

33, some would say that is just a measure of who shoots straighter. Bullets to bullets, rockets to rockets, the story is different indeed. What's the point -- what is that a tally of anyway?

Apr. 13 2010 01:17 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

WNYC and Leonard Lopate Show Moderators:
Can we please NOT have any more Leonard Lopate shows dealing with the topics of Judaism, The Middle East, autism, or vaccinations and contagious disease. Not only does the host immediately shut down and stop listening, but he lets his emotions take over in a rather unprofessional shout down of whatever the invited guest is saying. I don’t even know why these people agree to come on your show, but that’s neither here nor there. What I do know is any claims of civility, professionalism, and balance go straight to the toilet when these topics are discussed. The comment sections becomes rife with bigotry, name calling, and misinformation. That’s fine for Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, and even Matthews, but if you want to continue to claim to be above the fray, don’t let this host approach these subjects. We can get our closed-minded shout downs elsewhere.

Apr. 13 2010 01:15 PM

39 -- The guest did not state a view. Made a self-righteous accusation which she did not back up -- the most boring and common kind of "view" for which celebrities are notorious. An actual view might have been interesting.

Apr. 13 2010 01:15 PM
CH from Manhatan

The Romans did not throw the jews out of Israel... and since the Roman empire fell in 400 ad or so why didnt they come back? NO I think Pro Israeli folks should stop quoting the Bible...(It's a BIASED source) and making excuses for the obvious lack of Jews in Palestine in the past 200 years. Economic and financial opportunities in Europe and Central Asia (and now the USA) were tempting to many many Jews and so they left. Herding sheep in the deserts of Palestine was obviously not the life that they wanted to live. This is plain fact. They took their religion with them and felt no need to cling to "their " land. The Hopi and Navajo feel very differently about that . They risked extermination and endure poverty to stay in their sacred land and that is where they remain (in the majority ) to this day. To THIS day there are still more Jews OUTSIDE of Israel than inside it. The world cant afford to allow Israel to be kept as a museum to Jewish aspirations. On the other hand, anyone that advocates the destruction of Israel and displacement of jews from Palestine is cruel and wrong.

Apr. 13 2010 01:13 PM
adrienne from NYC

I'm sure there will be a ton of e-mails on this to come, but every time I hear Alice Walker on anything, she seems like she's in outer space. I also get the feeling that she's writing this knowing that she'll get tremendous publicity from it (I know that's very cynical). There is plenty of talk on mainstream media and else where about the Palistinians, that didn't used to be the case, now it is. It's not widely know that Jordon also has a Palistinian population that don't live as full citizens. As a Palistinian, you can become an Israeli and have rights. Believe me, part of the history of the conflict is that much of the arab world, didn't want the Palistinians to have their own land so that Israel would take all the blame.

I love Israel

Apr. 13 2010 01:13 PM

Shame Shame Shame on you Leonard Lopate. To let that author espouse her truly vile antisemitism disguised in an overly controlled, soft, slow speech comparing Israel to Rowanda and the Congo! Where are the principles, morals and balls of the elite intellectual left media? Shame on you Leonard Lopate.

Apr. 13 2010 01:13 PM
Mike from Inwood

[39] Just because you're an overrated author doesn't mean you can't be anti-Semetic.

Apr. 13 2010 01:13 PM
antonio from park slope

John, I see your point. But she is a writer; would you say that in a sense she is just "reporting" what she has seen albeit from a particular perspective that is not getting a lot of burn?

Apr. 13 2010 01:09 PM
kbinps from park slope

There you have it. Smears of Ms Walker's intellect for stating an opposing view. And the old anti-semite label pops up too. Just what you'd expect.

Apr. 13 2010 01:09 PM
Barbara from Monmouth Beach, NJ

Up until Israel became a state, "Palestinians" referred to all how lived in the area of historical Palestine, whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Just read books of the 19th century, such as Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad where he refers to Jewish Palestinians. After WWII, most of historical Palestine became what is today Jordan and all the Jews were forced to leave that area and live WEST of the Jordan River -- the remaining 20% of land was then subdivided a year later, part of it becoming Israel. So in the end, Israel ended up with 17% of historical Palestine. Alice Walker should not have been allowed on air to invent history.

Apr. 13 2010 01:09 PM
hjs from 11211

one is not anti-semitic just because one doesn't agree with the policies of the current government of israel

Apr. 13 2010 01:07 PM
Mike from Inwood

[23] opines: "If yo left Israel thousands of years ago ... to go elsewhere .. that means to me you did not want to "stick it out" thru the hard times and stay in the land that YOUR holy book said god gave you."

The UN recognized Israel in 1948. This means there are Isaelis who are over 60 years old who have never lived anywhere but Israel. If the land were returned, where would these people go? By the same token, none of the Palestinian refugees under 60 have ever lived on 'their' land in 'their' houses, which no longer exist. This is not to say the Palestinians should just go away and stop complaining, but there are no simple solutions to the Middle East. And after over 60 years of conflict and attacks against people going about their everyday lives, do you really think the Jews & Arabs are going to live together in one state as Ms Walker naively champions?

Apr. 13 2010 01:07 PM

I hope the crowd and moderator at the Jewish Community Center event tonight (92nd St. Y) is more diligent and proud and intellectually minded in their questions.

Apr. 13 2010 01:06 PM

I hope all commenters take the time to read all comments -- there is a lot of heart and truth and knowledge on this page. In fact there is nothing here with which I disagree or find misinformed on "either" side.

Apr. 13 2010 01:03 PM
Sarah Klepner from Little Silver, NJ

The terms of the Israel/Palestine conflict would be made clearer with a look at mortality stats. For instance, in last year's Operation Cast Lead, 1,400 Palestinians were killed, while fewer than 20 Israelis lost their lives.

Apr. 13 2010 01:03 PM
Marielle from Brooklyn

I think Alice Walker's strength lies in her ability to put the pain and struggle of people's lives into words, not to discuss policy.

Apr. 13 2010 01:02 PM
a. g. from hudson county nj

lily, if i jumped the gun,please accept my mia culpa,i just thought there was bluntness in your question. obviously,part of the problem is that e-mail's convey zero emotional inflexion...........peace.

Apr. 13 2010 01:02 PM

Agree Binky/ 19

Apr. 13 2010 01:01 PM
Opal from Manhattan

Israel is affirmative action for the Jews who suffered not only the Holocaust which was the culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism. Where was the pity for the Jews by the Palestinians when they were not allowed in enter Palestine? The Palestionian suffering is a political ploy. They could have had their own country in 1948 when Israel was formed but the Arab world objected, told the Palestinians stay where you are and we will shove the Jews into the sea. There is no reason why the Palestinians to have remained refugees after more than 60 years. People start new lives.
As for the Gazans, they voted for Hamas, a group that does not accept the State of Israel, they have continually thrown rockets at Israelis.
After the history of the Jews and particularly the Holocaust, the Jews must control their own land. Jews well know about being thrown off their land and out of their homes and yet they have started new lives. America is made up of people who have made new lives.
Yes, Ms Walker, you are anti-Semitic.

Apr. 13 2010 01:00 PM
re Israel


Apr. 13 2010 01:00 PM
Gary from Port Washington NY

I am amazed that an educated writer such as Ms. Walker is so uneducated about history concerning Israel. Please read the Bible and see that Israel was the homeland of the Jewish People until they were thrown out by the Romans. There has always be a Jewish presents in that part of the world. In addition, it was the United Nations and the world that recognized this and created the modern nation of Israel after the greatest genocide in world history against the Jews during WWII. It was the aggression of the Arabs that has caused the problems in the Middle East. Israel has repeated tried to create a peace with their neighbors unsuccessfully. Another point is that Israel is the only true democracy in that region and just as we support Britain and France we support our ally in that region. I am proud of Leonard for challenging Ms. Walker's distorted facts. It is sad to see unconscious anti-semantism from Ms. Walker.

Apr. 13 2010 12:59 PM
re Israel

Leonard: FOCUS

Apr. 13 2010 12:59 PM
Tom from Toronto

How refreshing. Seriously.

Apr. 13 2010 12:59 PM
Mike from Inwood

I agree with [17] let her talk about her novels, she's no expert on this and it's about as interesting as an overheard conversation between a FOX News watcher and someone with a copy of the Post on the subway.

Apr. 13 2010 12:59 PM
CH from Manhatan

The strange thing about the "antisemite " issue is that many European Jews are less "semetic" than their semetic Arab cousins. The deed was done and some very remarkable human beings that refer to themselves as Jews are in the state of Israel now. (Pretty handsome people too) And they have the right to life and live and grow there. But having written that... Palestinian rights have to be recognized and I admire the Palestinians refusal to be rolled over in the dust of history like so many other indigenous peoples. If yo left Israel thousands of years ago ... to go elsewhere .. that means to me you did not want to "stick it out" thru the hard times and stay in the land that YOUR holy book said god gave you. I do not see Hopi native americans leaving their mesas to live elsewhere. If you love it you would have never left it...

Apr. 13 2010 12:59 PM
john from office

This woman is a joke, Israel will never give up control, because they would be killed. What a fraud. Nice words will not defend jews.

Apr. 13 2010 12:58 PM
antonio from park slope

I don't think what Alice Walker was trying to say about Israel was controversial. The Palestinian perspective is one that is never given ANY coverage...not a mainstream outlet anyway.

Apr. 13 2010 12:57 PM
john from office

Antonio, If she were white she would not be on this show. She is not an intellectual, but a good review here and there and attention from len and his type, leads to being an authority, an intellect. What would she have had us do in Ruwanda, shoot people??

Apr. 13 2010 12:57 PM
binky from brooklyn

AW says one never hears the Palestinian side. Weird as that's the *only* side I ever hear. Doesn't she ever listen to the BBC World News on WNYC for their daily Pro-Pal segment?

Apr. 13 2010 12:56 PM

Thank you for giving a fair perspective on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and putting a little pressure on Mr. Lopate ;)

Apr. 13 2010 12:55 PM
daniel from williamsburg

Distrubing choice of guest. Alice Walker on the Middle East and other international trouble spots? Why not get Donald Trump to talk about Abstract Expressionist painting, or Bobby Flay to talk about the state of modern aviation?

Apr. 13 2010 12:54 PM
john from office

What would you have had the president do, send marines. Think about it. How about Africa resolving Africa's problems. We did not swing the Machettes. If we sent the Marines in, she would have complained.

Apr. 13 2010 12:53 PM
antonio from park slope

John what do you mean?

Apr. 13 2010 12:52 PM
Still listening but..

I sincerely would like to hear something intelligent about the Palestinian Arab rights and claims. So far she is just whining about how America is blindly supporting the JEWS.

That approach won't impress Amy Goodman and Leonard shouldn't accept it either.

She may have a great book so let's see some arguments rather than just bitter nothings.

Apr. 13 2010 12:52 PM

"maybe she was afraid"
I don't know the reason either, that's why I asked, rather than make assumptions.

Apr. 13 2010 12:51 PM
Rhonda from nj

Alice Walker is horribly misinformed. I recommend Benny Morrison's One State, Two States for a reality check. It is painful to listen to such talent speak with such profound ignorance.

Apr. 13 2010 12:51 PM
Randy from Ridgewood

As always Lenny is pro-pro-pro ALL Israeli policy.

Why Lenny do you draw on nonsequitors to justify Israel's doings? It's strange that you would suggest Israel can defend itself by suggesting it is doing no more wrong than another nation/state. Couldn't we then justify a genocide by saying "well Germany did it."

Apr. 13 2010 12:51 PM
Jennifer from NYC

Thanks Ms Walker - for giving voice to what many of us see re the Palestinian situation

Apr. 13 2010 12:50 PM
Tracy from NYC

I've had a lot of the same questions about Israel's formation and its relationships with its neighbors and inhabitants. I don't have strong opinions on the subject, but a lot of questions that lean in the same direction as Ms. Walker's. It's so hard to ask these questions when people are quick to throw out the anti-semite label. Thank you for raising this issue. It's nice to know that I am not the only one with these concerns.

Apr. 13 2010 12:50 PM
kbinps from park slope

Open mindedness goes out the window when Israel's behavior is questioned.

Apr. 13 2010 12:50 PM
a. g. from hudson county nj

office man-i hope smugness is not contagious.

Apr. 13 2010 12:50 PM
CH from Manhatan

But Europe didnt send Russians to India to displace people that were there for thousands of years.... Back off Lenny.... and stand strong Alice!

Apr. 13 2010 12:49 PM
john from office

Len, you are going to get alot of letters on this one.

Another "intellectual" created by fawning white liberals.

Apr. 13 2010 12:46 PM
a. g. from hudson county nj

if you go to a house thats on fire and you save the people there,am i going to get angry at you because you did not have time or energy to save the people next door? why is ms. walker obligated to go to a place of your design? don't you see the inherent moral pettiness of your question? maybe she was afraid,if so,i would not think less of her. im not implying that she was afraid,for the record.

Apr. 13 2010 12:45 PM



Apr. 13 2010 12:15 PM
a. g. from hudson county nj

# 1 that is sort of like calling someone whose never been to auschwitz a holocaust denier. i'm a pretty good person [i think], but i don't think im short listed for a peace prize.

Apr. 13 2010 11:35 AM

Why didn't she visit Sudan, who's leader has an arrest warrant for Genocide by the UN?

Apr. 13 2010 10:01 AM

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