A Pulitzer Prize-winning author has been condemned for saying that a book by notorious antisemite David Icke is among those on her nightstand.
The Color Purple author Alice Walker told the New York Times that in “Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true”.
Icke is a former Coventry City goalkeeper-turned-BBC sports broadcaster who promotes the notorious Tzarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and supports conspiracy theories about “Rothschild Zionists” controlling the world.
Walker singled out Icke’s And the Truth Shall Set You Free as being on her nightstand. The book, which Icke had to publish himself because his publisher declined to do so, describes the Talmud as “among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet”.
The Tablet magazine noted that Icke mentions the word “Jewish” more than 240 times in the book and “Rothschild” over 370 times.
Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland tweeted: “This is a bit depressing. Alice Walker is a reader of… David Icke.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said: “We’re deeply disappointed that The New York Times Book Review would print author Alice Walker’s unqualified endorsement of a book by notorious British anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke.
“His book And the Truth Shall Set you Free calls Judaism an ‘incredibly racist’ religion which preaches ‘racial superiority’ claims that a ‘Jewish clique’ fomented World War I and World War II as well as the Russian Revolution, and draws heavily on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for inspiration. He even casts doubt on the Holocaust and condemns the Nuremberg Trials.
“He has a long history of scapegoating Jews and Times readers should be aware of this before considering his work.”
It is not the first time Ms Walker has praised the work of Icke. In 2013, she described his Human Race Get Off Your Knees as “amazing” and chose to be cast away with it on BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs.
She wrote: “Reading it was the ultimate reading adventure. I felt it was the first time I was able to observe, and mostly imagine and comprehend, the root of the incredible evil that has engulfed our planet.”
Walker also refused, in 2012, to allow The Color Purple to be translated into Hebrew, and has repeatedly called for a cultural boycott of Israel.
In response to the controversy, the Times said that the recurring feature in which Walker was cited was “an interview and portrait of a public person through the lens of books; it is not a list of recommendations from our editors.
“The subject’s answers are a reflection on that person’s personal tastes, opinions and judgements. As with any interview, the subject’s answers do not imply an endorsement by Times editors.
“Moreover, 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 judgement on those books. Many people recommend books Times editors dislike, disdain or even abhor in the column.”
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