Skip To Content
We’ve Taken Down the Forward Paywall: An Open Letter to Our ReadersRead Now
Breaking News

Did Louvre Museum Try To Bar Israeli Students?

The famed Louvre Museum is one of two major cultural sites in Paris being accused of discrimination after rejecting requests to visit by Israeli art history students.

The governor of the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris and its suburbs, has asked the Paris prosecutor’s office to investigate the rejections, the French daily Liberation reported Monday.

A Tel Aviv University art history professor, Sefy Hendler, requested reservations in May for visits to the Louvre and the Sainte-Chapelle, a Medieval chapel, at the end of June during a trip being funded by French Friends of TAU. Both replies said all the slots were filled.

Several days later, Hendler sent new requests to the institutions for the same time on behalf of two institutions that he made up: an art institute in Florence, Italy, and the “Abu Dhabi Art History College.” He received immediate reservations for both fake institutions.

“I was shocked, shocked,” Hendler told Liberation. “I was ready to cancel the trip. ”

The Louvre, which told Liberation it was “troubled” by what happened, said that its reservation system is fully automated and therefore could not have discriminated against an Israeli group. It said that it receives 400 reservation requests a day, more than double what it can supply, and that the two fake groups were “lucky” to get slots.

Sainte-Chapelle is a manual system and an internal investigation has led to a “disciplinary procedure,” according to Liberation. Philippe Belaval, president of National Monuments, told the newspaper that the error was a lack of professionalism but not discrimination. He said the person in charge of booking has “never showed hostility to Israel.”

“It’s clear to me that when you say no to Israelis, it’s a discriminatory and racist act,” Hendler told Haaretz.”They don’t care whether you’re left or right wing. They simple don’t want the Israeli in the narrow sense through which they view him. It’s an incident that I simply don’t understand.”


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.