Facing an increasingly critical public opinion across Europe following the brutal attack on Gaza earlier this year, Israel’s lavishly funded spin-machines are seriously stepping up their efforts to show the apartheid state’s “other face” in preparation for the summer season. Following the Tourism Ministry’s “Experience Israel” ad campaign in the London Underground, which conveniently show the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip – as well as Syria’s Golan Heights – as integral parts of Israel, in Vienna, a massive “Tel Aviv Beach” has been installed on the banks of the Danube. Organised by the Israeli Embassy in cooperation with the City Council of the Austrian capital, the project promises to its vistors a “beach feeling with high chill-out factor, a new cultural institution on the pulse of time…complete with its own entertainment zone – stage, video screen and free WLAN included – spread out over an area of around 1,000 square meters of sand, on which up to 400 people can drop into original Tel Aviv beach chairs.”
Unfortunately, the organisers have largely failed to offer visitors the full-package of life in this popular tourist destination, who will have to miss out on traditional activities such as routine police beatings meted out on Arab Israelis and, most recently, feminist peace activists.
But the Israeli embassy need not despair, for dozens of pro-Palestinian activists have gathered to offer visitors a more nuanced image of their possible summer destination with the opening of a “Gaza Beach” on the opposite bank of the Danube Canal. Visitors ought to be warned though, as no free Wifi is available nor does it seem to score as high on the “chill-out factor”. Nevertheless, actions are planned for the whole of the summer, including a street theater group from France performing “Checkpoint” and the display of a military vehicle “transformed into an Israeli prison with photos and films from the last barbaric Israeli offensive in Gaza.”
To voice your disapproval of the City of Vienna’s decision to collaborate with the Israeli state’s propaganda machinery, you may wish to contact the mayor:
Dr. Micheal Haupl
Stiege 5, 1. Stock
Fax +43 1 4000 9981111