The University of Provence Aix-Marseille canceled a conference rather than cave in to a boycott by pro-Palestinian Authority participants.
The international conference, “Writing Today in the Mediterranean Region: Exchanges and Tensions,” was set for March 2011, and was to include author Esther Orner, an Israeli Holocaust survivor.
However, a group of Egyptian and PA Arab writers told the French university they would not cooperate in any activity that required dialogue with an Israeli.
University president Jean-Paul Caverni responded by canceling the entire event, saying the institution would not hold a conference with those who exclude dialogue with others.
Orner was born in Germany, and after surviving the Nazi Holocaust, made her way to Israel. In addition, she spent many years living in France.
The 73-year-old Israeli author told The Jewish Chronicle that she felt the boycott was an attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel – something she could not tolerate.
“I understand that it is not personal against me” she said, “but it greatly upset me because I see it as systematic – not against me, but against Israel. This time I chose not to keep quiet because I see these cancellations as a move against the existence of the State of Israel.”
This is not the first time Orner has faced boycotts by anti-Israel activists abroad. Less than a year ago, a literary conference was canceled in Luxembourg over similar circumstances.