FILE – In this April 23, 2009 file photo, Alice Walker stands in front of a picture of herself from 1974 as she tours her archives at Emory University, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
“The Color Purple” author Alice Walker has been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League after she endorsed a book by conspiracy theorist David Icke in a New York Times interview published Sunday.
In an interview for the paper’s “By The Book” column, the 74-year-old Walker said Icke’s 1995 book ” And the Truth Shall Set You Free” was one of the volumes on her nightstand.
“In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about,” Walker said, calling the book “a curious person’s dream come true.”
Icke, 66, is a British author and former professional soccer player who is best known for espousing the theory that Earth is controlled by a race of reptilian creatures who are able to take human form. In “And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” Icke questions whether the Holocaust happened, says the Talmud is “among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet,” and claims that far-right groups in the U.K. are fronts for the Israeli secret service Mossad and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Writing in Tablet magazine, commentator Yair Rosenberg called “And the Truth Shall Set You Free” “an unhinged anti-Semitic conspiracy tract written by one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Semites … Indeed, the book was so obviously anti-Semitic that Icke’s publisher refused to publish it, and he had to print it himself.”
“We are deeply disappointed that @nytimes would print Alice Walker’s unqualified endorsement of a book by notorious anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke,” the ADL tweeted Monday. “We have asked editors to update the review w/information about this author’s #antiSemitism.”
New York Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades says the column is not a list of recommendations from its editors, and “the subject’s answers are a reflection on that person’s personal tastes, opinions and judgments.”
Sunday’s interview was not the first time that Walker has endorsed Icke’s work. In a 2013 BBC Radio interview, she said that Icke’s 2010 book “Human Race Get Off Your Knees” would be the one book she would like to have if she were cast away on a desert island.
David Icke, pictured in 1992. (Photo by Colin Davey/Getty Images)
Walker also has a long history of criticizing Israel, repeatedly calling it an “apartheid state” and refusing to allow “The Color Purple” to be translated into Hebrew.
In 2013, Walker wrote an open letter to singer Alicia Keys requesting that she cancel a planned concert in Tel Aviv.
“It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists,” Walker wrote. Keys went ahead with the show.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.