Home > France, Israel > Arab protests over Israeli author forces cancellation of writers’ conference

Arab protests over Israeli author forces cancellation of writers’ conference

MARSEILLE, France (WJC)–A writers’ conference at a public university in southern France was canceled after some Arab participants refused to attend because of the presence of Israeli author Esther Orner. The meeting at the Université de Provence Aix/Marseille was intended to feature Mediterranean authors.

“The story beneath all this – and it’s an enigma – is that nobody knows the names of the Arab writers” who refused to dialogue, Orner told JTA.

Jean-Raymond Fanlo, a Spanish Literature professor at the university, told French media that one of the Arab authors who boycotted Orner’s presence was “a major writer around which we will organize a vast program in Marseille schools for back to school.” Fanlo refused to divulge the author’s name for fear of adding controversy. As a result of the Arab refusal, the university said in a statement that it was forced to cancel the whole seminar.

The professor who invited Orner to speak on a panel titled ‘Writing in the Mediterranean’ reportedly quit the group that organized the conference following the incident. “I don’t understand how people from another country can dictate what a prestigious university can do,” Orner said. “I find it incredible.”

Orner said she felt obliged to publicize information about the conditions of her revoked invitation to speak because “individual people like me have to do something” in reaction to propaganda aimed at “delegitimizing Israel.”

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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