Activists in Paris staged a boisterous protest on Saturday at the official Israeli pavilion at VivaTech, a major international trade fair.
About two dozen protesters from BDS France, a group that supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign for Palestinian rights, spread out in front of the pavilion chanting “boycott apartheid Israel” and “stop the massacres in Gaza.”
As the video above shows, officials attempted to hustle them out, but the activists sat down on the ground, continuing their chants.
The publication Le Parisien tweeted its own video clip of the protest:
The activists eventually walked out, continuing their chants along the way.
VivaTech has grown in international stature, this year featuring talks by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, senior executives from Microsoft and Google, and French and British government ministers.
It has therefore also become a major target for Brand Israel propaganda.
The Israel pavilion was supported by the Israeli trade ministry and billed as part of the Saison France-Israël 2018 – or France-Israel Season – a months-long series of hundreds of “cultural” events sponsored by both governments.
Israel’s high-tech industry is closely tied to research on weapons that are marketed around the world as having been tested on Palestinians.
As one outcome of VivaTech, the French mail service La Poste signed a deal with the Israeli transport management firm Trucknet.
“With the presence of this pavilion, Israel is being honored and marketed as a ‘start-up nation,’ an appealing country at the forefront of technological innovation that can ensure our security and improve our lives,” BDS France stated. “But Israel’s real brand identity is colonization, occupation and apartheid.”
By organizing the France-Israel Season, the group added, “France has made the choice to support the Israeli apartheid regime, help whitewash its image and make France complicit in its crimes.”
Pressure has been mounting on the French government to cancel the France-Israel Season in the wake of Israel’s latest massacres of unarmed protesters in the occupied Gaza Strip.
In an apparent nod to the growing outrage, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe canceled a a trip to Israel planned for next week to launch the France-Israel Season.
Meyer Habib, a French lawmaker who functions as a de facto spokesperson for the Israeli government in the French parliament, expressed “disappointment” and “incomprehension” at Philippe’s cancellation.
More protests planned
Nonetheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still expected in Paris early next month to launch the season in France.
The activist organization Association France Palestine Solidarité has called Netanyahu’s planned visit “indecent” and is vowing to “mobilize with our partners to make 5 June a day of protests against Israeli policies and of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
The Institut Français, the French government’s cultural arm, has removed from its website a 60-page program listing France-Israel Season events.
That may be an attempt to make it harder for activists to plan protests.
But organizers are not likely to be deterred, as actions in solidarity with Palestinians have continued around France.
On Saturday, a Palestine solidarity contingent joined the march in the city of Clermont-Ferrand that was part of a wave of national labor protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s planned cuts to the public sector.