- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

JERUSALEM (AP) - Celebrated Italian writer Umberto Eco says boycotting scholars for their governments’ policies is “a form of racism” and “absolutely crazy.”

But he says he faced no pressure from colleagues to boycott a book fair in Jerusalem to protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Pro-Palestinian British writers had called on British novelist Ian McEwan not to travel to Israel to accept a prestigious literary prize at the book fair. He accepted the prize in Israel but harshly criticized Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Eco will be addressing the fair later Wednesday.

He is the author of best-selling books, including “The Name of the Rose” and “Foucault’s Pendulum.”

He told reporters Wednesday he enjoys Israeli novels and his books’ themes are influenced by Jewish culture.