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Thursday, April 22, 2010

'The antidote to civilization'?

You all remember those commercials from the 80's right? The Club Med vacation, the antidote to civilization.... You can see the beach right now, can't you? Well, here in our region, civilization has intruded on a Club Med vacation....

Club Med had told passengers who were to travel on one of their cruises later this year that passengers with an Israeli stamp in their passports would not be allowed to disembark in Lebanon. Therefore, such passengers were advised not to board the cruise, and Club Med had issued a travel advisory accordingly:
According to the centre, the French tourism company’s advisory reads: “The Bodrum-Valletta cruise of 16-28 September 2010 will be stopping in Lebanon. The Lebanese authorities will not admit on their territory, or on the ‘Club Med II’, passport holders with a visa or Israeli stamp. These will be prohibited to board the ‘Club Med II’. Failure to follow these provisions are the responsibility of the client, who will be denied access to the boat on the day of its embarkment from Bodrum on 16 September, and will bear the subsequent costs. Club Med will not incur any liability for any omission, fault or negligence by the passport holder".
The Simon Wiesenthal Center howled in protest (and rightfully so):
In a letter to Club Med president, Henri Giscard d’Estaing, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Shimon Samuels, noted that “the company’s communications director, has rationalized this offensive language by claiming that Club Med is innocent, as the instigator of these measures is Lebanon.”

The letter retorted: “far from it, for the message is sadly reminiscent of the exclusion policy of World War II Vichy France – then it was the yellow star, now it is the Israeli stamp.”

“The advisory is irrational for it bars Gentiles and Jews, whether pilgrims or guests, who have visited the Holy Land through Club Med or its hotel in Eilat, as their passports are surely branded with an Israeli visa,” it added.

In the letter, Samuels stressed that “the company has declared itself complicit in boycott – an act of war, smacking of racism – certainly in violation of EU, OSCE and World Trade Organization provisions against discrimination based on religious or national origin.”

The letter pointed to “a press comment hinting that the indignation of our Centre, and of concerned Frenchmen, have led you to drop Lebanon from the itinerary. Yet, until today, the Byblos visit is still listed on the route.”

The Centre urged Club Med “to issue an apology for the offense to world Jewry of your travel advisory. Moreover, we expect Club Med to make an unambiguous public statement, on its website, that it rejects the Lebanese boycott and that the 'Club Med II' will not enter its waters due to the evident threat to its passengers.”
I wonder whether Mr. Giscard d’Estaing is related to the former French President. Hmmm.

In any event, JPost is reporting in its print edition Thursday morning (not online yet) that Club Med has canceled the Lebanon stop and that therefore the travel advisory is also canceled.

But don't celebrate Israelis. It's not canceled because Israelis would be barred from the cruise. It's canceled because otherwise lots of other people would have to be barred from the cruise.

Nice, eh? (I will update when the JPost story is online).


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