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Monday, June 15, 2015

It's come to this: Louvre and other French tourist sites refuse to book Israeli student groups

Paris' famous Louvre art museum and several other French cultural sites have refused to book reservations for a group of art history students from Tel Aviv University who were planning to visit.
Last month, Sefy Hendler, who teaches in the university’s art history department, began finalizing the itinerary. Hendler, who also writes for Haaretz, contacted the administration of the Louvre and of Sainte-Chapelle, the medieval Gothic chapel, to schedule visits there. Both institutions declined his request. Sainte-Chapelle responded that there was no space available on the date requested. The Louvre refused to allow the visit even though three possible dates were proposed for it.
“It surprised me that a place that receives nine million visitors a year didn’t find room for us,” Hendler told Haaretz, referring to the Louvre, “even though we asked to tour in the middle of the week.”
After being turned down, Hendler attempted to make arrangements for a visit on the same dates and times, using names of fictitious educational institutions from Italy and Abu Dhabi in the Persian Gulf – and was told that space was available.
At that point, the TAU faculty member said he considered cancelling the entire tour, but ultimately he decided to provide details of the incident to the president of French Friends of TAU, Francois Heilbronn, who pursued the matter with the institutions involved, as well as with French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin.
The Louvre is claiming that they don't understand how this happened.
The administration of the Louvre responded that it was “disturbed” over the incident and initiated an internal investigation into the matter, but told Heilbronn added that the reservation system at the world-famous museum is almost entirely automated. By contrast, reservations for visits to Sainte-Chapelle are handed manually by staff.
Philippe Belaval, the president of the National Monuments Center, which administers Sainte-Chapelle, said his organization conducted an internal investigation that revealed recurring irregularities, but at this stage it was not clear that the incident involving the TAU students constituted a case of discrimination due to their origins.
Hendler said he does not accept this explanation. “It’s clear to me that when you say no to Israelis, it’s a discriminatory and racist act. They don’t care whether you’re left- or right-wing. They simple don’t want the Israeli in the narrow sense through which they view him. It’s an incident that I simply don’t understand,” he noted.
You don't say. And I thought that if we gave the 'Palestinians' their reichlet, the Europeans would suddenly become our biggest fans. You mean they won't? Oh my....
“What was the idea? That if we don’t see the 'Mona Lisa' [at the Louvre] then the occupation [of the West Bank] would end? It’s completely foolish,” Hendler said.
As my kids would say, "boker tov Eliyahu" (a colloquial way of saying "Welcome to the real world").

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