(August 6, 2019 / JNS) Nobel laureate Toni Morrison died on Monday at the age of 88, announced the publishing company Alfred A. Knopf, adding that the cause was complications from pneumonia.
One of America’s greatest novelists, her 1987 book Beloved won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, five years before being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—the first black female to win the honor.
She was awarded the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, by U.S. President Barack Obama.
However, Morrison infamously was one of 18 writers to sign on to a 2006 letter denouncing both Israel’s right to self-defense and the outrage over Hamas having kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was released five years later as part of a prisoner exchange.
The letter stated that Shalit’s “ ‘kidnapping’ was considered an outrage, whereas the illegal military occupation of the West Bank and the systematic appropriation of its natural resources—most particularly, that of water—by the Israeli Defense (!) Forces is considered a regrettable but realistic fact of life, is typical of the double standards repeatedly employed by the West in face of what has befallen the Palestinians, on the land allotted to them by international agreements, during the last seventy years.”
Many consider all of Israel to be occupied, while Israel’s defenders note that the West Bank is disputed territory, and that the Palestinian areas are under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, led by its leader, Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas has been known for his flagrant anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, and the P.A. itself has been documented for incitement against Jews and ongoing corruption.
“Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over,” added the letter. “But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.”
Morrison’s other novels included The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon.