Paris cultural sites ‘discriminated against’ Israeli tour party


Two major cultural sites in Paris, including the Louvre, are being accused of discriminating against Israeli visitors.

Last month, a professor of art history at Tel Aviv University, Sefy Hendler, tried to book a guided tour for a group of 12 students at the Louvre and Sainte-Chapelle, a medieval chapel, for later this month.

The professor told reporters he had been turned down by both the museum and the chapel, despite the fact that he had tried booking on different dates.

Several days later, Mr Hendler tried to reserve slots under the name of made-up Italian and Emirati art history institutes, and was accepted immediately.

“I was shocked, shocked,” Mr Hendler told French daily Liberation. “I was ready to cancel the trip.”

The Louvre, which told Liberation it was “troubled” by what happened, said that its reservation system was automated and could not have discriminated against an Israeli group.

It added that the system had been full up when Mr Hendler tried to book the first time, and automatically admitted his party later when there was room.

At Sainte-Chapelle, where the reservation system is manually operated, an internal investigation found “repeated errors” in its reservations department. It said that “disciplinary measures” would be taken.

“It’s clear to me that when you say no to Israelis, it’s a discriminatory and racist act,” Mr Hendler told Haaretz. "They don’t care whether you’re left or right-wing. They simply don’t want the Israeli in the narrow sense through which they view him. It’s an incident that I simply don’t understand.”

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