General view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
(photo credit: CHARLES PLATIAU / REUTERS)
PARIS – The joint committee for the France-Israel cross-cultural season convened on Monday in Paris for a three-day session, ahead of the season’s opening events at the beginning of June.
This latest meeting takes place at the Institut Francais, with Emmanuel Halperin heading the Israeli delegation; a delegation comprised of some 20 people, representing the Israeli foreign ministry, culture ministry, tourism ministry and trade ministry.
“France has been holding cross-cultural seasons with different countries for thirty years already,’’ explained Halperin to The Jerusalem Post
. “Each year or so France chooses a country with an interesting cultural baggage; a country that is also important to France on the diplomatic level. France hosts cultural events of the chosen country for several months, while the other side hosts French events.
“The current initiative of a France-Israel season was born when former French president [Francois] Hollande visited Israel a couple of years ago. At the meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two leaders agreed to hold such a cross-culture season. The idea was lost and forgotten over time, until recently, when the Israeli foreign ministry took it up again. The French responded enthusiastically, and we have been preparing these simultaneous seasons for two years now.’’ Halperin added that France set up €1.5 million for the project; half of it based on national budget funds, and the other half from donations and sponsors. Israeli law prevents the ministries from receiving donations, so the government has allocated a special budget of six million shekels to this initiative, to be divided between the participating ministries.
The cross-cultural season will be launched in Israel at the beginning of June, featuring an exhibition by French artist Christian Boltanski at the Israel Museum. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, accompanied by five other ministers, is expected to arrive in Israel for the opening, which will be attended by the Israeli prime minister.
On June 5, Netanyahu will inaugurate the opening of the season in France, with a special exposition at the Paris Grand Palais de la Decouverte, dedicated to Israeli innovation.
French President Emmanuel Macron will also attend this event. President Reuven Rivlin is expected to arrive in France later on for other events of the season; Macron is scheduled to arrive in Israel in the fall, for one of the closing events.
In between, Israelis will be invited to enjoy a large selection of cultural and scientific events. French theater plays would be performed in Ashdod and in Acre, Cinematheques across the country will feature recent French films, a special all-night happening titled “Night of Philosophy,’’ would offer Israeli audience lectures and artistic events of all sorts, not to forget French cuisine.
In France, Israeli cities will feature Israeli innovation and high tech at the Nice Innovation Salon; Israeli artists Roee Rosen will exhibit at the Paris Pompidou Center, with Israeli artist Maya Duniez performing there; Israeli Jazz groups will perform in France’s most prestigious jazz festivals, the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra will offer concerts in Nice, Marseille and Paris; director of the economic and scientific department at the Israeli embassy in Paris Daniel Sa’ada has been busy for many months preparing an event in Toulouse celebrating the joint Israel-France micro-Satellite VENuS, and the list goes on.
Ambassador to France Aliza Bin Noun emphasized that the cross-cultural season is not a PR campaign, but a truly magnificent opportunity for both sides to learn about and enjoy each other’s achievements in fields of technology, science, innovation, visual arts, music, design, cinema, performing arts and more.
“It’s a great opportunity to deepen our bilateral relations on all levels. And for the first time, this cross-cultural season project will include not only arts but also technology and innovation, celebrating Israeli achievements thought-out 70 years of existence. With so many different events, we are hoping that many people could enjoy what both our countries have best to offer.’’