Friday, June 17, 2011

Beautifully Moving Interview with Alice Walker (by Ali Abunimah)

EXCERPT (does not do justice; please read all at link above):

Ali Abunimah: This will not be your first time trying to go to Palestine or going to Palestine. You were previously in Gaza and you wrote an incredibly beautiful short book about it, Overcoming Speechlessnesswe had the opportunity to publish part of it on The Electronic Intifada before it was a book. And you recently were in the West Bank. What was your experience in the West Bank?

Alice Walker: Well, the wall. The wall. When I was looking at a snippet of the Senators and Congress — people applauding [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu I just had to wonder if they had ever stood in the shadow of that wall.

That wall is such an insult to the soul of humanity. It’s so enormous. It’s so threatening. And they are building it right in the faces of people and stealing their land in the process; so not only are they walling in the people but they are taking their land and then shooting at them when they try to work their land so they can have something to eat.

This is such a crime against the soul of humanity. We can’t stand this. Who are we as human beings if we can even bear this? We cannot bear it. And we must not. So that was one of the amazing impressions, just the enormity of the wall, how much of it there is.

And then the other thing was the settlements. The settlements are huge. They are unlike anything I had expected. And they are everywhere, everywhere! And so I realized that this whole long drama, the charade called the peace process, was simply a diversion, a shadow play, so that people wouldn’t realize that there was never going to be any peace.

It was always about taking the land. Religion had nothing to do with it; or it was used as an excuse. On some level I knew that, but seeing it made it really clear to me that “Aha! This is what this has been about from the very beginning.”

On the upside, I loved being with what I considered my tribe. Anywhere in the world your tribe is, well for me, it’s poets and writers and musicians and dancers and people who, you know, want to enjoy this planet. The planet is about enjoying it. It’s not about bombing it and beating it and forcing it to do what you want.

AA: There was the beautiful scene in Overcoming Speechlessness where you described dancing in Gaza. You talk very eloquently there about the role of dancing.

AW: Well, it’s just that we must never forget the liveliness and reciprocal joyfulness of this world, its dancing nature, when left in freedom to demonstrate itself. It’s important to model for children that they don’t have to continue to live in fear indefinitely and that this is a really graceful and beautiful planet.

When we were driving along in the West Bank we were shown all of these fields where the Israelis had cut down the olive trees. There were acres and acres of black stumps. I had to weep because trees are innocent and all they do is stand there and they give us whatever they have — we reap the benefit of their existence and that anyone would cut down even one without being sorry is painful.

And to cut down two and a half million. I hate to think of the soul that would even think of that as nothing. Who is this? So the earth is for joy, and dancing is a big part of that. And you dance with nature. Nature is always dancing. If you’re not harassing it and killing it and mutilating it, nature is dancing. That’s what the leaves are doing when the wind blows through them. We live in a magical wonderful universe. And to just spoil it while thinking we can at some point go to heaven or some other planet is ridiculous.

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