NEW YORK (JTA) — Acclaimed British writer Howard Jacobson criticized novelist Alice Walker for her planned participation in the upcoming flotilla to Gaza.
“Whatever its cargo, by luring the Israeli military into action which can be represented as brutal, the flotilla is engaged in an entirely political act,” Jacobson wrote in an essay published Friday on CNN’s website. “To call it by any other name is the grossest hypocrisy.”
Walker, the American author of “The Color Purple” and other books, had explained her participation in the flotilla — an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza — in an article for CNN earlier in the week. “Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman,” Walker wrote. She said that she wanted “justice and respect” for Palestinian children. “One child must never be set above another,” she wrote.
Jacobson, who won the prestigious Man Booker Prize last year for his novel, “The Finkler Question,” which tackled themes relating to anti-Semitism, Jewish identity and Israel, responded: “Gaza is under siege, Israelis will tell you, because weapons are fired from it into Israel, threatening the lives of Israeli children.”
He added: “If the aim of the flotilla is to ensure that one child will not be set above another it is hard to see how challenging the blockade will achieve it. All an Israeli parent will see is a highly charged emotionalism disguising an action that, by its very partiality, chooses the Palestinian child over the Israeli.”