FRANCE

Tel Aviv beach day in Paris causes political uproar

Miguel Medina / AFP | Every summer the banks of the Seine are turned into a beach

A French councillor on Monday slammed a decision to dedicate one day of the French capital’s annual Paris Plages beach festivities to the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, saying it sent "a very bad message" of support for Israeli policies.

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Every summer, Paris turns the banks of the Seine into a makeshift beach known as Paris Plages and this year it has devoted each day to a famous beach around the world.

Left-wing councillor Danielle Simonnet reacted angrily to the idea that August 13 has been dubbed "Tel Aviv Sur Seine" after the Israeli beachside city.

"Paris is handing Israel a nice bit of PR on a plate," Simonnet told France Inter radio. "I fear it will go very badly and I think it sends a bad message."

She called for the event to be cancelled or reorganised into "a peace protest, in support of fraternity, in support of the fight against all forms of racism and anti-Semitism, and to back recognition of the Palestinian state".

Bruno Julliard, a top official in the mayor's office, sought to downplay the uproar, saying people should distinguish between "the brutal politics of the Israeli government and Tel Aviv, a progressive city".

On Monday, conservative French lawmaker Eric Ciotti, who is head of the Alpes-Maritimes region in south-eastern France, said the “scandal” over the Tel Aviv Beach day was “obviously anti-Semitic”.

“I am absolutely scandalised by this reaction by the far-left,” he told Europe 1 radio.

“Let me be very clear about this - the overtones are obviously anti-Semitic.”

Ciotti was also critical of Julliard’s “ambiguous” comparison of “brutal” Israel and “progressive” Tel Aviv.

“These attacks on Israel are unjust and undignified,” he said. “Israel is a democracy, we should be supporting them.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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