Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement activists in France are opposing this year’s version of the 13-year-old Parisian tradition to transform the beach on the banks of the River Seine to a foreign beach, because this year the area will be transformed into a Tel Aviv beach complete with falafel stands, Israeli music, and nightlife.
The event, dubbed “Tel Aviv on Seine” and organized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, is scheduled for Thursday. It is a collaboration with Cool Israel, a company marketing Israel to French tourists.
Local politician Danielle Simmonet of the left-wing Parti de Gauche party has said that the event should be cancelled because it is planned just one year after “the massacre in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army,” the International Business Times reported.
The pro-Palestinian group CAPJPO-EuroPalestine also called for the nixing of the event, while Twitter has been overflowing with similar sentiments under the hashtag #TelAvivSurSeine, which became the most popular hashtag on French social media over the weekend.
French lawmaker Eric Ciotti, who represents the Alpes-Maritimes region in southeastern France for the Les Républicains party, said regarding the reaction to the beach event, “Let me be very clear about this—the overtones are obviously anti-Semitic,” Europe 1 radio reported.
Ciotti also criticized Bruno Julliard, a top official in the Paris mayor’s office, who in an attempt to defend the event said that people should distinguish between “the brutal politics of the Israeli government and Tel Aviv, a progressive city.”
“These attacks on Israel are unjust and undignified. Israel is a democracy, we should be supporting them,” Ciotti said, France 24 reported.
The umbrella organization of the Jewish institutions in France, CRIF, said in a statement, “If all the cities on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Middle East resembled Tel Aviv, the world would be a better place… Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, secular people, all enjoy the beaches of Tel Aviv together.”