At Berlin Gay Pride in June, the city of Tel Aviv will have a booth at the festival, encouraging attendees of Europe’s largest pride event to spend a few shekels touring the gay mecca of the Middle East. But they’ll be working extra hard to hide the fact that Tel Aviv is, uh, a city in Israel — because apparently the Jewishness of it all is a turn off to potential tourists.
In Berlin, where the celebration is known as Christopher Street Day, the Tel Aviv booth will eschew any Israeli branding or symbols, which of course includes the white-and-blue Star Of David flag. It’s all part of an effort to make everyone forget where on the map the city lies. Ynet explains:
Berlin Municipality invited Tel Aviv to take part in the main festival, which will be taking place ahead of the gay pride events. But the Israeli delegation decided to leave out any state symbols at the stand, as well as in any performances by Israeli artists taking part in the festival. Thus, there will be no Israeli flags and the emphasis will be on Tel Aviv as a global city – pluralistic and liberal, which accepts members of the gay community no matter where they’re from. Moreover, visitors to the festival will receive information about Tel Aviv which will include a map that highlights LGBT entertainment centers.
A source within the tourism industry told Ynet that “in the past it has been proven that the correct and smart way to ‘export’ Israel, especially these days, is through emphasizing brands it excels in, without using anything that symbolizes the state of Israel. Unfortunately, the Israeli flag or Star of David can cause antagonism among many.”
In other marketing campaigns, with the blessing of Israeli’s Tourism Ministry, the country itself is described as “the holy land with Jerusalem at its center,” while the city of Eilat is branded as the “resort city on the Red Sea.” So the de-Israel-izing of Tel Aviv, a gay hot spot, at Berlin Gay Pride isn’t a singular event. But it is notable that the city is being Israel-washed in the very city where a campaign to wipe out Jews helped lead to the creation of the Jewish state where Tel Aviv resides.