Storm clouds gather over Tel Aviv Sur Seine

Storm clouds gather over Tel Aviv Sur Seine
Paris council sparks row with 'Tel Aviv on the Seine' event, which celebrates Israeli city with a temporary beach. Some say it ignores Palestinian injustice, claims branded 'anti-Semitic' by others.
2 min read
12 Aug, 2015
Paris Plages has become a feature of the Parisian summer [Pawel Libera].
There are perhaps a few reasons not to be at a temporary beach party on the banks of Paris' River Seine on Thursday.

For one thing, it might be a balmy 29C, but it's forecast to rain. Another, depending on your politics, is the decision by city authorities to dedicate the 'Paris Plages' event to Tel Aviv.

Parisian authorities say 'Tel Aviv on the Seine' will showcase the Israeli city's sights and sounds, and even have stalls selling falafel, the quintessential Arab street food.

It won't be mentioning the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the continued growth of illegal settlements on appropriated Palestinian land in the West Bank, or the stranglehold Israel has kept on the Gaza Strip for the past couple of years.

Needless to say, there has been opposition in Paris to Tel Aviv on the Seine. The #TelAvivSurSeine hashtag was trending all weekend on Twitter, with a petition calling for its cancellation attracting tens of thousands of signatures.

It's a deeply embarrassing situation for 'Paris Plages', a yearly event now in its 14th year.

One councillor, Danielle Simonnet, labelled the event a "nice bit of PR" for Israel's right-wing government, that Paris is "serving up on a plate".

"I fear it will go very badly and I think it sends a very bad message," Simonnet said.

This was echoed by a pro-Palestinian group, CAPJPO-Europalestine, which has called for protests unless the event is cancelled.

"It is out of the question to allow such an immoral event to go ahead in a public space," the organisation said.

There has been a pushback against the criticism, with the French capital's deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard, seemingly acknowledging that the Israeli government had "brutal politics" but that this was disconnected from Tel Aviv, which he called "progressive".

He then decided that anyone who does point out that link was a "radical".

A right-wing French parliamentarian, Eric Ciotti, went even further, saying that the "scandal" of opposition to the event was "obviously anti-Semitic".