France-Israel Cross-
Cultural Season

**by special guest author Emily Colby*

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PARIS-Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu finds himself in Paris, France this week, among other European powerhouses, including Germany and the UK. Netanyahu’s visit to Paris marks the kick-off of a collaborative project organized by the Israeli foreign ministry, between France and Israel. Funding for this project, dubbed as the France-Israel cross-cultural season, has been largely amassed from France, whose contributions have amounted
to about 1.5 million euros. Half of this figure comes from the national budget, while the other half has come from donations and various sponsors.

Today’s official start to the program was celebrated in the form of French president, Emmanuel Macron, hosting Netanyahu for a visit to the Paris Grand Palais de la Découverte, à Parisian museum dedicated to scientific innovation.

The two heads of state held several talks and news conferences to promote the cross-cultural project, whose objective, as outlined by the French government “is to target youth and develop a multidisciplinary programme focused on contemporary design, the cultural and creative industries (series, film, etc.), and the digital economy” (diplomatie.gouv.fr). Despite the project’s idealistic aims, tension could be found just outside the doors of the Grand Palais,
where crowds of protesters seemed to have less positive associations of the French-Israeli relationship. Activists lined the streets with Palestinian flags and hand-written signs denouncing Netanyahu as a war criminal with Macron as a complicit figure.

Fortunately, Tuesday’s protests in Paris did not result in any violence. Time will tell whether such tensions will continue to rise in France during this season of French-Israeli cultural sharing. The hope is for an outcome as optimistically originally outlined by the two countries’ governments.

The Jewish people in Paris have suffered for many years and we are hoping this will help put an end to that.

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