Ayelet Waldman smiling
Ayelet Waldman (File photo)

Ayelet Waldman to Israel: Go ahead — I dare you

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

Berkeley-based author and left-wing critic of Israel Ayelet Waldman has challenged the Jewish state to block her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, from entering when the couple visits in June.

“I think it’s despicable to say that if you are in opposition, as many Israelis are, to illegal occupation,” Waldman told J. in a telephone interview. “Building settlements is illegal activity, so every settlement is essentially criminal. The idea that a country that calls itself a democracy bans from its shores people who oppose criminal activity, it’s despicable.”

Israel cannot bar Waldman from entering, because she holds Israeli citizenship. But Chabon does not.

In early March, Israel’s Knesset passed a law that bans entry to foreigners who publicly call for boycotting Israel or its settlements. Haaretz reported Tuesday that Israel is taking border control to “new extremes” with its tourist bans.

Both Waldman and Chabon are vocal critics of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. After a visit to the West Bank Chabon described the Israeli occupation “the worst thing I have ever seen, just purely in terms of injustice.”

Chabon and Waldman have co-edited a collection of essays entitled “Kingdom of Olives and Ash” that is set to be released May 30, marking 50 years since the Six-Day War and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Waldman said, “I just bought plane tickets and [the occupation] sickens me, because I love Israel. I’m Israeli, and I want Israel to be around forever.”

max cherney
Max A. Cherney

Max A. Cherney is a former J. staff writer.