(JTA) – A conference featuring an address by Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut was moved from a Paris university following threats of protests.
The event on Europe’s future was moved at the last moment to the IPAG Business School near Sciences Po university, the original location, and held Tuesday under heavy security. Protesters tried to block access to IPAG but were held at bay by police. “Security is our top priority and it’s preferable to take no risks,” organizers of the event at Sciences Po wrote Tuesday in saying they were canceling the conference before it was moved.
The event included other speakers, but they were not named in the letter threatening protests. Finkielkraut was accosted recently on a Paris street for being a “Zionist.” In their statement, the authors of the call to demonstrate outside Sciences Po wrote: “We cannot accept Finkielkraut’s ‘modern Europe’ and his islamophobic, racist, sexist and homophobic rhetoric.” A Sciences Po spokesperson called the group “far-left.”
Finkielkraut is a centrist thinker who has criticized the far right, as well as Muslim communities and far-left activists, for failing to integrate. A best-selling author, Finkielkraut entered the pantheon of French academia in 2016 when he was admitted into the Academie Francaise, a council of 40 greats elected for life.
A Zionist supporter of Israel, he is a member of the dovish J Call group styled after the J Street lobby in the United States. In February, police extracted Finkielkraut from a hostile crowd after he was recognized on the street by participants of so-called yellow vests demonstrations over the cost of living. His assailants called him a “dirty Zionist” and told him to “go back to Tel Aviv.”