Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alice Walker--#Flotilla2 And Literary License

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.
Alice Walker, Why I'm joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Alice Walker is a writer, whose defense of joining the flotilla is naturally expressed more in a literary turn of phrase than argument based on facts--appealing to emotion rather than reason.

The above quote continues:

This should go down hilariously in the annals of history. But if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla, Freedom Flotilla I, what is to be done?
Walker cannot be bothered with the ties those men had to terrorism or that they attacked the IDF first or that there were weapons aboard the boat--or that video clearly shows them preparing to attack the IDF and actually threw a soldier off the ship.

Award-winning British Jewish Howard Jacobson responds to Alice Walker and her talk of solidarity:
But what will these letters of solidarity be expressing solidarity with? Solidarity is a political term implying commonality of interest or aspiration. So what interest or aspiration do Alice Walker and her fellow travelers share with the people of Gaza? A desire for freedom? Well we all aspire to that. A longing to live in peace?

If they have such a longing we must be solid with them in that too, though the firing of rockets from Gaza is not, on the face of it, an expression of such a longing. And what about the declared hostility of Hamas to the very existence of Israel? Hamas, we are often told, is the elected government of Gaza, a government that fairly represents the wishes of its people. In which case we must assume that Hamas's implacable hostility towards Israel fairly represents the implacable hostility felt by the people of Gaza. Are Alice Walker's letters of love and 'solidarity' solid with the people of Gaza in that hostility?
There is also the matter of Walker's metaphor of a mailman, comparing the actions of the flotilla to the innocuous delivery of a package.
"If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman," she says. Wrong on a thousand counts. As a writer, Alice Walker must understand the symbolic significance of words. The cargo is a cargo of intention. It is freighted with political sympathy and attitude. It means to blunder into where it isn't safe, clothed in the make-believe garments of the unworldly, speaking of children and speaking like children, half inviting a violence which can then be presented as a slaughter of the innocents.[emphasis added]
Words have meaning.
And so do actions.

It is one thing to take literary license.
But this is real life.

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