Alice Walker refuses to allow her book to appear in Hebrew (& notes on Euro 2012)

June 19, 2012

* Tom Gross: For a writer to boycott an entire language is virtually unprecedented

* Despite anti-Semitism of some fans and players, European soccer body UEFA refuses calls to boycott Israel, announces Israel will host 2013 European under-21 competition

* Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt, on a visit to Israel yesterday: Google’s development centers in Israel are among the most efficient in the world. “We love Israel,” he said

* Another tech giant, Facebook, yesterday buys Israeli startup for an estimated $100 million

* MasterCard reveals Tel Aviv is now the fifth most visited city in Middle East and Africa

* Israeli tops world’s most beautiful woman list: Bar Refaeli. (And Mila Kunis has relatives in Israel)

Update (June 21)

The Commentator asked me to adapt this dispatch into an article.

Among several news outlets that quote me on this is The Los Angeles Times.



1. Alice Walker refuses to allow her book to appear in Hebrew
2. MasterCard ranks Tel Aviv as fifth most visited city in Middle East and Africa
3. Abby Joseph Cohen: Israel is a “high tech superpower”
4. Google chairman Eric Schmidt: Israel is a “high tech miracle”
5. Facebook to buy Israeli startup for an estimated $100 million
6. European soccer body refuses call to shun Israel, announces Israel will host 2013 competition
7. Netanyahu injured playing soccer at joint Jewish-Arab youth match
8. Argentinean soccer club loses points over anti-Semitic chants
9. “On sidelines of Euro 2012, anti-Semitism is alive and kicking”
10. Israeli tops world’s most beautiful woman list

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


American writer Alice Walker has refused permission for her prize-winning book The Color Purple to be newly translated into Hebrew, citing what she incorrectly called Israel’s “apartheid state.”

In a letter sent last week to Yediot Books in Tel Aviv (which is owned by Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper), Walker said she would not allow the publication of the book in Hebrew. The letter was yesterday placed on the website of the (Western-staffed and funded) “Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel”.

In 1985, The Color Purple, which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was turned into a feature film directed by famed Jewish film director Steven Spielberg. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars.

For a writer to boycott an entire language is virtually unprecedented.

In recent years, Walker traveled to Gaza where she was warmly welcomed by the zealots of Hamas and reportedly had nothing to say about their subjugation of Gazans in general, and of Palestinian women in particular, nor about their mistreatment of minorities.

Last year, Walker told Foreign Policy magazine that Israel was “a terrorist organization,” as I noted in this dispatch.

(There was a previous version of The Color Purple translated into Hebrew in the 1980s.)



As tourism to Israel reaches record levels, the annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, which charts visitor traffic and tourist spending in 132 cities around the world, has said that Tel Aviv now ranks as the fifth most visited city in the Middle East and Africa.

It is believed that an estimated 2.5 million tourists will visit Tel Aviv this year, spending approximately $3.5 billion dollars there.

All the authorities in Israel need to do now to further increase tourism is allow far more affordable hotels to be built, to construct a proper railway line between the center of Tel Aviv and the center of Jerusalem (unlike the slow, round-about line that exists at present) and to allow public transport to operate fully on Saturdays throughout Israel.

For the second year in a row, London was named the world’s top destination city by the MasterCard index.



Abby Joseph Cohen, the highly-regarded senior strategist at Goldman Sachs, said that Israel and the U.S. top the global high tech table.

“We’re used to seeing China and India as future technological superpowers but that’s a mistake,” she said last week.

“Those two countries don’t have high tech in the Israeli and U.S. sense. China and India manufacture products requiring relatively simple technology, and a cheap workforce, and not products with high added value. Within the context of advanced technology, the U.S. and Israel are top of the table and that’s an excellent reason for optimism.”

Also high on the list, she said, were Switzerland and Germany.



The chairman of Google Eric Schmidt said yesterday that Google’s development centers in Israel are among the company’s most efficient in the world.

Speaking at a conference in Tel Aviv, Schmidt said that the quality of Israel’s engineers was extremely high, in part due to the country’s world-class universities and the training acquired during Israeli army service. He also praised Israel’s salespeople as among the best in the world, saying they continue to contribute to the company’s profits.

“We love Israel,” Schmidt said, drawing applause from the crowd.

Concerning the Arab Spring, Schmidt said that “the dictators of the Arab world were censoring everything except for the Internet; they were too old and didn’t know about it.” He added that it was not the technological and social media companies that initiated the Arab Spring, but the ordinary people who used technology “to revolt against the dictators.”

“If the government shuts down the Internet, it’s a sign that the government is scared,” he said.

“People should not be afraid of technology,” Schmidt remarked. “The future is just starting.”



Another technology giant, Facebook, announced yesterday that it was buying, the Israeli company that provides facial-recognition technology, for an estimated $100 million., a tiny 11-person Israeli company founded three years ago, already provides facial-recognition technology to Facebook to help users identify and tag photos.

The deal is expected to strengthen one of Facebook’s most popular features -- the sharing and posting of photos.

Facebook said that’s 11 Israeli employees will now work for it.



Whereas the likes of writer Alice Walker and actress Emma Thompson don’t think Israelis should be allowed to read books or perform plays in Hebrew, the European football (soccer) association UEFA is refusing calls for Israel to be boycotted. Instead it announced yesterday that Israel will host the 2013 under-21 football championships.

The Associated Press reports that UEFA President Michel Platini wrote to Israel Football Association President Avi Luzon on Monday to confirm that Israel will stage the 2013 tournament from June 15-28 despite “a certain amount of pressure being put on us.”

“UEFA is an apolitical organization and your association earned the right to host this competition through a fair, democratic vote,” Platini wrote. “I am sure that it will be a beautiful celebration of football that, once again, will bring people together.”

To the dismay of many, a number of high-profile former footballers backed calls to disallow Israel to host the competition. These included former Manchester United and France star Eric Cantona and former West Ham and Seville striker Frederic Kanoute.

Platini said he thought those advocating a boycott of Israel were “ill advised”.


Among previous articles of mine on football, please see: Soccer Killing Fields

In it, I point out that unlike UEFA, the world soccer body FIFA has a history of condemning Israel while turning a blind eye to the abuse of soccer players around the world, including the torture of the Iraqi national team by Saddam Hussein’s son Uday, and the use of terrorist activities or mass executions at soccer stadiums in Afghanistan, Chile, Russia and Gaza.



In other soccer news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leg was put in a cast after sustaining a soccer injury last week. Netanyahu has been hobbling around after tearing a tendon while he participated in a soccer match played by Jewish and Arab children. Several minutes into the game, he slipped on the grass. He continued to play, but later the injury worsened and he was taken to hospital where the diagnosis was made and a cast applied.



In an unprecedented decision, the Argentine Football Association Disciplinary Court has deducted points from an Argentine soccer club after mass anti-Semitic chanting by its fans. The chants during the match included “With the Jews we make soap”.

The chants were made by the Chacarita Juniors soccer club during a game against Atlanta, a soccer club that has historical Jewish connections.

“Chaca is coming along the road, killing the Jews to make soap,” Chacarita’s fans repeatedly sang during an official match at the Premier B League, on March 11.

In 2000 Chacarita fans greeted the Atlanta team with Nazi flags, and threw soap on the field while singing the same song.



Poland and Ukraine – co-hosts of the ongoing Euro 2012 soccer tournament (the second most watched event in the world after the World Cup) – have been much criticized in Western media for the racist and anti-Semitic chanting of some fans in those countries, and for the beating up of people of color. In truth, Western countries also have fans that engage in racist and anti-Semitic abuse. For example, Chelsea fans in Britain have sung songs like “I never felt more like gassing the Jews, when Chelsea win and Tottenham lose”. Tottenham is a club with supposedly Jewish connections.

However, whereas the authorities in Western countries have denounced such anti-Semitism and expelled fans who encouraged it, in Poland and Ukraine they have not.

Here, for example, is a Reuters photo of a huge Nazi flag flown by fans of the main soccer club in Lviv in western Ukraine, which was chosen as one of the host cities of Euro 2012:

The mayor of Lviv has failed to denounce this. Instead in recent days he has attacked the Jewish human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center after it asked visiting fans not to frequent two anti-Semitic “theme” restaurants in central Lviv (a city formerly known as Lvov, Lwow, and Lemberg).

More here (including a reference to me in the first article below):

“On sidelines of Euro 2012, anti-Semitism is alive and kicking”

On June 30, the Lviv municipality is set to award a prize named in honor of the wartime Fascist leader Stefan Bandera to individuals who “helped develop Ukrainian statehood.” The Bandera prize is “part of a whitewashing campaign” in Ukraine to cover up history said local researcher Irena Cantorovich.

Bandera’s followers are accused of helping the Nazis eradicate the city’s large Jewish population (it had the third largest Jewish population in Poland in 1939) and then murdering about 30,000 Polish civilians after the war and ethnically cleansing the remaining population of what was historically primarily a Polish and Jewish city.

If you scroll down in this article by a former NPR correspondent you will see a horrific video of a recent march through central Lviv by supporters of Bandera:,0


Among previous related dispatches, please see:

* Ukrainian presidential advisor orders work stopped on Golden Rose hotel project
* And here.

* Into the light (but only for a few)



Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli is the most beautiful woman in the world, according to Maxim magazine’s annual list of the world’s most sexy and prettiest females.

Maxim readers chose the Israeli over last year’s winner Brit Rosie Huntington Whiteley.

Refaeli, from Hod Hasharon, also works as an actress.

(Please see:

* Relatives outraged over film about Hamas chief – but not because he is portrayed as a terrorist
* Mossad role for Bar Refaeli

Mila Kunis

Another Jewish actress Mila Kunis (above) is third on this year’s Maxim’s most beautiful women in the world list.

Kunis recently opened up about being Jewish, and the anti-Semitism that caused her to leave Ukraine, after being chosen as the world’s most sexy woman by readers of The Sun, one of the two best-selling newspapers in Europe:

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.