Paris has been put on high alert for possible violence that could break out this Thursday when the city hosts ‘Tel Aviv Sur Seine,’ a day-long festive and cultural event dedicated to the Israeli city. Left wing politicians have condemned the event as “indecent” and demanded its cancellation.
Parisian protests against the event taking place on the temporary beach on a bank of the Seine – the ‘Paris Plages‘ – have linked criticism of it to the death of a Palestinian baby who was burned to death in a fire caused by Israeli settlers. They believe the sale of Tel Aviv food specialities, musical and sporting activities, and the DJ-led ‘Tel Aviv Beach Party’ in the evening should not be allowed to take place.
A mixture of pro-Palestinian and hard-left activists have united in opposition. A Paris Councillor from the Left Party, Danielle Simonet, has denounced the event as the “height of indecency” and a petition against it, describing the festival as “Israeli propaganda”, has secured over 22,000 signatures.
French newspaper, Le Figaro, reports that four mobile police units, including crowd control and riot police, will be dispatched as reinforcements representing more than 300 extra police. From within police ranks there is also some concern, with one union official warning the event could feed the “climate of anti-Semitism” which resulted in riots centred on a synagogue located on the Val d’Oise in the Sarcelles district of Paris last July.
Europe 1 reports Republican member of the National Assembly Eric Ciotti expressing his “outrage” at the “controversy launched by the hard left”. For him it has clear “hints of anti-Semitism” and the defence of the event from the Socialist mayor of Paris, Ann Hidalgo, is not enough.
In an article she wrote for Le Monde, she described the “doctrine of Paris” in defence of the event:
“The doctrine of Paris is inviolable: it is to encourage rather than scold, exchange rather than boycott, dialogue rather than excommunicate and therefore to travel in both Israel and Palestine and maintain links to all who work in reconciliation.”
She went on to describe Tel Aviv as “a city open to all minorities, including sexual, creative, inclusive, in short, a progressive city, hated in Israel as such by all intolerant.”
Ciotti thought the equivocal defence of the event from the mayor and her allies – essentially boiled down to “Tel Aviv good but Israel bad” – was not good enough. He replied:
“I say that these attacks against Israel are totally unworthy, unfair. Israel is a great democracy we need to support in a region of the world where this democracy is a major point of equilibrium for the West.”
Ciotti’s sentiments are supported by the Parisian member of the National Assembly, Claude Goasguen. Writing for JSS News he concluded:
“This celebration of Tel Aviv Sur Seine should be the end of ostracism of the State of Israel, a democratic state that is only defending its security…
“Tel Aviv sur Seine is for me the beginning of a tribute to Israel sur Seine and I invite all those who share that feeling to express themselves on social networks to make their voices heard.”