An investigation has been launched into an incident in which Tel Aviv University art students are prohibited from visiting the Louvre Museum. The group was hoping to make the visit at the end of the month but organizers were compelled to tell 12 students the Louvre and other cultural institutions have rejected their requests to make a group visit.
According to a report in the Liberation newspaper, the governor of the district has ordered an investigation.
Sefy Hendler, who teaches in the university was finalizing the group’s itinerary. Requests were sent to the Louvre and Sainte-Chapelle (medieval Gothic chapel). The Louvre rejected all three possible dates for a visit and the chapel explained it did not have vacancies on the day requested. Hendler, who is also affiliated with Haaretz, explains it is difficult to understand the places that receive millions of visitors annually were unable to accommodate one of three possible dates for a small group.
Wishing to be absolutely certain as to the reason for being rejected. Hendler then tried to make reservations for the same dates, but this time explaining the groups are from Italy and Abu Dhabi. Both cultural institutions were happy to oblige.
Tel Aviv U, then contacted the president of French Friends of TAU, Francois Heilbronn, as the organization is funding the trip. He contacted the institutions involved, as well as with French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin.
Louvre officials’ responded they are “disturbed” upon hearing of the events, promising an investigation. Adding somewhat to the confusion is the fact that Heilbronn points out the reservations system is almost entirely automated.
Officials at the Sainte-Chapelle are probing the matter as well, and at present they are not certain the refusal was due to discrimination.
Hendler on the other hand says the reason for rejecting the dates is quite clear.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)