French Jews Postpone Conference, Fear Fury of Jewish Extremists

A conference of French-speaking Jewish scholars scheduled for this weekend, which was to have included a lecture on the Palestinians, has been postponed indefinitely for fear of violence from Jewish extremists.

The conference was the 31st in the series organized by the French Section of the World Jewish Congress and the Foundation of French Judaism headed by David de Rothschild.

It was to be held Dec. 15 to 17 on the general theme of “Settlings and Exiles.” Its traditional site is the Jewish Cultural Center in Paris, known as the Rashi Center.

Professor Bernard Kanovitch, the center’s chairman, said the organizing committee requested “special security arrangements to be provided for one lecture liable to rock the boat, i.e., the one on the Palestinians.”

It was to be delivered by Alain Gresh, a Jewish historian well known for his pro-Palestinian sentiments, at a session devoted to Armenian and Palestinian history.

“We answered that we were unable to provide ‘special arrangements’ and asked the committee to hold this particular lecture elsewhere,” Kanovitch said.

“All I Know is that the committee then decided to cancel the conference altogether,” he added.

But Serge Cwajgenbaum, secretary-general of the French Section of the WJC, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the conference, including the session on Palestine, will be rescheduled when a different location is found.

While members of the organizing committee declined to comment, rumors have it that the militant right-wing Zionist youth group Betar had threatened to disrupt the lecture on the Palestinians.

Professor Lilly Sher, a Jewish historian, remarked to the JTA that she was “shocked and sickened” by the attitude of some members of the Jewish community, such as Betar.

“We have fought against many enemies. Will we now have to confront Jewish fascism?” Sher asked.

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