Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker praised an anti-Semitic book in a New York Times interview that was published on Sunday, which has resulted in a firestorm of criticism toward Walker and the Times.
Walker was asked what books she has on her nightstand, one of her answers was David Icke’s And the Truth Shall Set You Free.
“In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about,” Walker said. “A curious person’s dream come true.”
Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg noted that the aforementioned book is laced with anti-Semitism, highlighting how it praises the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous bible of anti-Semitism, as “authentic.” Icke also questions the veracity of the Holocaust while suggesting that Jews were behind the Holocaust, suggests that Jews were behind the slave trade and calls the Talmud one of “the most appallingly racist documents” that exists.
Rosenberg also pointed out that Walker has praised Icke several times in the past, which included sharing a YouTube video in 2015 of Icke being interviewed by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Additionally, Walker shared a poem on her blog titled “It Is Our (Frightful) Duty To Study The Talmud,” that features a passage that reads, “Are Goyim (us) meant to be slaves of Jews, and not only that, but to enjoy it?”
Rosenberg criticized The New York Times and “elite cultural critics” for failing to challenge Walker on her praise of Icke, positing that she’s likely celebrated over her support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“Walker—like Icke—is a strident critic of Israel, her defenders—like Icke’s—have dismissed allegations of anti-Semitism by claiming they are merely an attempt to quash her criticism of the Jewish state,” Rosenberg wrote. “But it should not surprise anyone that the world’s only Jewish state, home to half its Jews, would attract the attention of anti-Semites, who would use the legitimate debate over its conduct to smuggle in their anti-Jewish bile. Anti-Zionism may not be anti-Semitism, but plenty of self-described anti-Zionists are anti-Semites.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted that they are “deeply disappointed that @nytimes would print Alice Walker’s unqualified endorsement of a book by notorious anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke.”
“We have asked editors to update the review w/ information about this author’s #antiSemitism,” they added.
We’re deeply disappointed that @nytimes would print Alice Walker’s unqualified endorsement of a book by notorious anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke. We have asked editors to update the review w/ information about this author's #antiSemitism https://t.co/C7cse1xxYt
— ADL (@ADL) December 17, 2018
A New York Times spokesperson addressed the controversy in a statement that read, in part: “Our editors do not offer background or weigh in on the books named in the By the Book column, whether the subject issues a positive or negative judgment on those books. Many people recommend books Times editors dislike, disdain or even abhor in the column.”
NYT responds to criticism from @tabletmag and @Yair_Rosenberg over their decision to publish Alice Walker's praise of the book "And the Truth Shall Set You Free" without noting that its author, David Icke, is a conspiracy theorist and antisemite pic.twitter.com/XejdGRqlrY
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) December 17, 2018