“Tel Aviv” themed beach festival sparks controversy in France


Pro-Israelis celebrate Tel Aviv along the shore of the Seine River (Katherine Du)

Katherine Du, Staff Writer

On Aug. 13 and 14, the Israeli population of France celebrated Tel Aviv, a seaside city in Israel, along one portion of the Seine River shoreline.

Every year in August, the mayor of Paris converts the sidewalks along the Seine River into temporary beaches, known as “Paris Plages”, for natives who cannot afford to vacation out of the country. The mini vacation spots are complete with palm trees, umbrellas, and artificial sand for Parisians to spread their towels on.

To compliment the Tel Aviv theme, festive music boomed while Israelis danced and cheered in traditional clothing. Israeli flags were erected in addition to posters showcasing the words “Tel Aviv sur Seine”. Israeli defenders showed that they were supporting democracy.

However, present at this year’s festival were also resisting Palestinians and approximately five hundred policemen keeping watch in the vicinity.

When asked about what was occurring, a nearby policeman who spoke mostly French repeated, “protest”.

Next to the Tel Aviv beach but separated by physical barriers and the police, the pro-Palestinians had occupied what they referred to as “Gaza”.

Anti-Israel signs were observed while the majority of individuals present were boycotting. According to National Public Radio, protestors felt the Tel Aviv theme was unacceptable, as the war between Israel and the Palestinian organization Hamas last year led to more than 2,000 Palestinians deaths in Gaza. Dozens of Israelis, who were mostly soldiers, also died.

However, should this Middle Eastern political issue be argued about in France? Access to the beaches had been restricted for passerbys and vacationers while the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ viewpoints have clashed along the Seine River.