March 02, 2008

Paris's international book fair causes uproar by honouring Israeli writers

More Muslim hubris and mendacity. Via The Canadian Press:

Israeli writers will be the toast of the Paris international book fair in March but some Arab intellectuals argue that honouring Israel's literature has brought dishonour upon France.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization urged its 50 member states this week to boycott the March 14-19 event.

Each year the international fair puts the spotlight on one country. This year it is inviting 39 writers from Israel, including David Grossman, Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua and Aharon Appelfeld. A similar controversy is brewing about the May book fair in Turin, Italy, which is also highlighting Israeli works.

The Islamic organization said its boycott call was a "response to the special standing (the fair) gives to Israel despite its atrocities, oppression and imposed starvation and siege against the Palestinian people."

It also argued that the Paris fair celebrates the 60th anniversary of Israel, a claim Eyrolles denies. He said it was merely coincidence, as Israel has asked to be honoured for five years in a row but there was a waiting list. Many of the Israeli writers being honoured are firm supporters of Palestinian statehood, he said.

Lebanon announced Wednesday that it would boycott the Paris event, a decision that French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani said was "extremely regrettable. "