French university cancels writer’s conference due to anti-Israel protest

Israeli author Esther Orner says she did not expect such a decision by the University of Provence Aix-Marseille.

By The Associated Press and Haaretz Service

A French university has canceled a conference of Mediterranean writers after participants protested the presence of an Israeli author.

The author, Esther Orner, said Sunday she wasn’t expecting the decision by the University of Provence Aix-Marseille. She says those seeking to boycott her are trying to delegitimize Israel.

The university had planned an international conference for March 2011 called Writing Today in the Mediterranean Region: Exchanges and Tensions.

University president Jean-Paul Caverni says that the conference was canceled after some unnamed participants refused to take part in dialogue with an Israeli author.

He says the university would not hold a conference with those who exclude dialogue.

Over the last few years, outrage against Israeli participation in various events has brought to their cancelation.

Last year, British director Ken Loach withdrew his film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne International Film Festival to protest Israeli funding of another film participating in the festival.

Loach demanded that the festival reject the Israeli Embassy’s sponsorship of Tatia Rosenthal to visit the festival to answer questions about her animation feature $9.99, but the festival organizers refused, saying that they would not bow to “blackmail,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Also last year, Palestinian artists called for a boycott of the Toronto International Film Festival for screening a series of movies about Tel Aviv.

Around 1000 international artists and activists signed a letter in protest against the festival claiming that Tel Aviv was built on violence, ignoring the “suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants.”

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