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U. of Michigan Center Withdraws Invitation for Alice Walker to Speak

The University of Michigan’s Center for the Education for Women has withdrawn an invitation for the novelist Alice Walker to speak at an event celebrating the center’s 50th anniversary, the news site AnnArbor.com reported.

In a blog post on her Web site, Ms. Walker said her agent was told that a donor had objected to her speaking at the event because of her outspoken views about Israel. The center’s director, however, said donors had no bearing on the decision.

In an apology on the center’s Web site, the director, Gloria D.Thomas, said she had withdrawn the invitation “because I did not think Ms. Walker would be the optimum choice for the celebratory nature of our 50th-anniversary event.” She said she hoped the center would be able to co-sponsor a future lecture by Ms. Walker that “would be focused on a more substantial discussion of human-rights issues.”

Ms. Walker, whose 1982 novel The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, has been an outspoken opponent of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Last year she refused to allow an Israeli edition of the novel to be published, and in 2011 she took part in the international aid flotilla to Gaza.

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