Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Umberto Eco Opposes Boycotts of Israel
Renowned Italian writer Umberto Eco said at an Israeli book fair Wednesday that boycotting scholars for their governments' policies is akin to racism.
It was his response to British writers who called on prominent British novelist Ian McEwan to reject an Israeli literary prize this week as a way of protesting Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. McEwan, who wrote the celebrated 2001 novel "Atonement," accepted the Jerusalem Prize at the book fair's opening ceremony earlier this week but peppered his acceptance speech with tough criticism of Israeli policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Eco told reporters that unlike McEwan, he faced no pressure from colleagues to stay away from the Israeli book fair, and he does not support boycotts.
In answering questions about his opinion of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, Eco joked, "I have so much to say against the Italian government that I have no time to speak about the Israeli government."