Clashes broke out between police and protestors as tempers flared and controversy marred a Paris festival celebrating Tel Aviv.
Organisers of the Paris-Plages – an annual month-long event which sees artificial beaches installed along the embankment of the River Seine – staged a festival devoted to the Israeli city yesterday (13th August).
Featuring electronic music and falafel, it had been intended as a celebration of Tel Aviv’s status as a coastal hotspot of tolerance and fun.
However, the event – organised in part by the office of the city’s mayor Anne Hidalgo – attracted hundreds of BDS and pro-Palestinian protestors.
They accused authorities of condoning Israeli government policy and “sweeping it to one side for a festival of electro-dance” by linking the event to the city.
The event was surrounded by hundreds of riot police – with officers reportedly removing by force those staging a sit-in.
Around 100 activists chanted behind a banner which read ‘Apartheid on Seine’, with hundreds more protesting at an Palestinian solidarity event dubbed ‘Gaza Beach’ on a nearby stretch of riverbank.
Chants reportedly included: “Israel is criminal” and “Gaza, Gaza, we won’t forget.”
Protestors also lay prone on the sand covered in fake blood.
Defending Tel Avive Sur Seine, Anne Hidalgo said: “Even in the context of the violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Tel Aviv remains an open city for all minorities including sexual ones, creative, inclusive – in one word a progressive city.
“I could never regard a city as responsible for the policies of a government. To do that would be to show contempt for… democracy.
The socialist politician added: “It is perfectly possible to condemn the politics of the Netanyahu government without at the same time punishing the entire Israeli population – and ourselves as well – by refusing the contacts that are so important for mutual understanding.”
Her stance was also backed by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
Valls tweeted an article Hidalgo wrote to reply to critics of the event, saying she had his “total support”.