Bastille Day, the French national holiday, which takes place July 14, is a dancing- in-the-streets affair in its home country, and France’s current ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, wants to bring some of that happy atmosphere to Israel.
This year, the French Embassy, in conjunction with the French Institute in Tel Aviv, organized a Frenchstyle mega celebration in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard in the large square outside the French Institute.
Although many events have been canceled due to the security situation, a joint press release put out on Friday by the embassy and the institute states that barring instructions to the contrary by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, the celebrations will go ahead as planned, with the added dimension that they will be in solidarity with the people of the South.
The festivities will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a parade from the corner of Sheinkin and Rothschild led by the Tararam Band, whose members will be attired in the tricolore blue, white and red. In the square opposite the French Institute at 7 Rothschild, the musicians will be joined by the Police Band and together they will play a selection of the best of French chansons.
Maisonnave, in an interview with Israel Radio on Sunday, said President Francois Hollande had spoken to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and had said Israel and every country under attack has the right to defend its citizens. Maisonnave also said France is among the countries trying to find a way to bring about a cease-fire, and had cautioned Netanyahu of a possible deterioration in the security situation if fighting from both sides continues.
Maisonnave has visited Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot and kibbutzim in the South in recent days, not only because so many French immigrants are living there, but also as a gesture of solidarity with the plight of the residents of the South, in general.
Continuing with tonight’s celebration was a difficult decision to make, he said, but he felt if the Israeli authorities permit the festivities to take place, it will be an opportunity to express France’s solidarity with the residents of the South publicly.
There will be singers, a DJ and dancing, and in the course of the evening Maisonnave will address participants.
Should a siren be sounded during the evening, the public is asked to go down into the underground car park directly below the square.
The security situation will be re-assessed as late as possible in the day and an update will be published on the embassy’s Facebook page.
On Sunday night, Maisonnave hosted a somewhat smaller Bastille Day reception at his residence in Jaffa, which President Shimon Peres attended, and sent notices to invitees to confirm that the event was still open and that instructions with regard to security would be given on arrival.