‘Boy­cott’ fails to ruin Turin’s book fair in hon­our of Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY JC RE­PORTER

CALLSFORaboy­cotthadlit­tleim­pact on­theTur­inBookFair,which­honoured Is­rael and Is­raeli au­thors last week­end on the Jewish state’s 60th birth­day.

Thou­sands of book-lovers flocked to hear some of Is­rael’s top au­thors present their works at a long ros­ter of pub­lic read­ings and round-ta­ble talks.

“We had huge au­di­ences at con­fer­ence­sand­de­bat­esthat­fea­ture­dex­traor­di­nary guests such as AB Ye­hoshua, Aharon Ap­pelfeld, Etgar Keret, Meir Shalev, and Sami Michael, among oth­ers,” Book Fair di­rec­tor Ernesto Torino told the daily La Repub­blica. “What more do you want? It was un­der­stood that the Book Fair is a place of di­a­logue and de­bate, not a fortress.”

Ital­ian pres­i­dent Gior­gio Napoli­tano opened the five-day fair, which closed on Mon­day, and other se­nior po­lit­i­cal fig­ures took part.

“No di­a­logue is pos­si­ble if there is a re­jec­tion of the le­git­i­macy of the state of Is­rael, or of the rea­sons for its birth or of its right to ex­ist in peace and se­cu­rity,” Mr Napoli­tano said in his open­ing ad­dress.

This was a right, he added, that “can and must be com­bined with the right of the Pales­tinian peo­ple to give birth to their own state”.

The book fair is a huge event that an­nu­ally at­tracts more than 300,000 vis­i­tors.

More than 1,400 pub­lish­ers were rep­re­sented this year, and the over­all pro­gram in­cluded more than 2,000 speak­ers at nearly 1,000 con­fer­ences, de­bates and other events. Is­rael had a flag-be­decked stand show­cas­ing books, brochures and other ma­te­rial.

Pro-Pales­tinian groups had called for a boy­cott of the fair be­cause of Is­rael’s role as guest of hon­our. On Satur­day, sev­eral thou­sand demon­stra­tors car­ry­ing pro-Pales­tinian and anti-Is­rael ban­ners staged a protest march through Turin.

The Ital­ian me­dia had warned that there might be pos­si­ble clashes, but the turnout was lower than pre­dicted and no in­ci­dents took place.

“In the end it was a tem­pest in a teapot,” said Jewish com­men­ta­tor David So­rani.

Lisa Palmieri-Bil­lig, the Rome rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Amer­i­can Jewish Com­mit­tee, called the protest “very in­signif­i­cant” adding that the Fair as a whole “a demon­stra­tion of love for Is­rael”.

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