A plan to celebrate the Israeli city of Tel Aviv as part of Paris's seasonal celebrations on the Seine has set off an uproar among Parisian citizens and local officials, the Local reported Monday. The "Tel Aviv Sur Seine" party, scheduled to be part of the yearly Paris Plages, or Paris Beaches party along the Seine River, was criticized for being in poor taste, given the anniversary of the war in Gaza that claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people.
Paris Plages has been a staple of Parisian summers for several years, a way for city-dwellers unable to leave for vacation to take a break from daily life. Sand, beach chairs, and umbrellas are shipped in and used to build artificial beaches along the river that runs through Paris.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo organized the event "Tel Aviv Sur Seine," scheduled for Thursday, in collaboration with Cool Israel, a company marketing Israel to French tourists, following a visit to Tel Aviv. Some politicians, journalists and Parisian citizens are angered by the city honoring Israel.
— joel rayner (@joe_n1nety) August 10, 2015
Twitter posts exploded both in favor of and against the event, and by Monday morning #TelAvivSurSeine was trending on French Twitter. The beach party in particular evoked an Israeli airstrike that killed four Palestinian boys playing on a beach last summer. Many posts on Twitter made the connection.
"Tel Aviv is a not Copacabana!" said Danielle Simonnet, a city councilor from the left-wing Parti de Gauche. She wrote an open letter to the mayor of Paris on her blog, calling for the event to be canceled, the Local reported.
"The cynicism of organizing such a day within the context of Paris Beaches reaches the height of indecency," Simmonet wrote in the post on her blog. "Madame Mayor, it is time to cancel this event or radically change its program."