Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Stockholm Envoy: Israeli Embassy Asked to Relocate
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Israel's ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, said that the owner of the building which currently houses the Stockholm embassy has asked the Israeli government to relocate it, citing concern for the security of other tenants.

The Swedish government is considering issuing a conciliatory note to bring to an end the crisis in relations between the two countries resulting from the controversial art exhibit in Stockholm, according to sources in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

The scandal broke out after Mazel turned off the lights aimed at an installation made by former Israeli Dror Feiler, now a Swedish citizen, and his Swedish wife Gunnar. Mazel, backed by the government in Jerusalem, said the Feiler installation, part of an art exhibit accompanying a prestigious international conference on genocide, glorified the bomber, and violated an prior agreement with the Israeli government that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not be part of the conference.

Jerusalem also wants the episode closed, and will be satisfied with an appropriately conciliatory statement by Sweden, to enable the Israeli delegation to attend the conference as planned.

The Swedish ambassador in Israel expressed regret about the incident and the hope that Israel does not boycott the conference. He emphasized that his government had no legal recourse to get the installation removed from exhibit, due to stringent freedom of expression laws in Sweden.

When Mazel pulled the plugs on the installation on Saturday night, Dror Feiler approached him angrily, shouting in Hebrew, "You're doing exactly what you do in Nablus. This is a free country and I can say what I want to say here, not like you in your apartheid country."

Israel's ambassador to Sweden said that he physically attacked an art exhibit at a Stockholm museum because it "glorified suicide bombers." The ambassador, Zvi Mazel, was among several hundred guests invited to the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm on Friday for an exhibit linked to a coming international conference on genocide sponsored by Sweden. Israel is one of the scheduled participants.

The piece that enraged the ambassador, "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," was in the museum's courtyard and featured a large basin filled with red fluid. A boat floated on top carrying a smiling photo of the woman who became a suicide bomber, murdering 22 people in an Oct. 4 attack on a restaurant in Haifa.

Mazel ripped out electrical wires lighting the exhibit and tossed a spotlight into the basin.

Mr. Mazel, who has served in his post for a little over a year, said he has faced considerable anger directed at Israel during his time in Sweden. "There is a hostile ambience in this country that is orchestrated by the press and the extreme left," he said. But he said Prime Minister Goran Persson "has very good intentions with this conference."

Mr. Feiler is a member of Jews for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, a group based in Stockholm that opposes the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Israeli envoy, an experienced diplomat, made clear to Ha'aretz that he had planned his protest ahead of time, after the director of the event refused his request to remove the exhibit. According to Mazel, "That's not art, it's abominable."

Feiler, on the other hand, pointed out that the text also spoke of the murder of the innocent. He views what happened as an infringement of the freedom of artistic expression.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that he had telephoned Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel and thanked him for his stance against the increasing antisemitism and said that Israel supports him in this matter. The Prime Minister added that "I believe that Ambassador Zvi Mazel acted correctly as what we witnessed there was so serious that it is forbidden for us to remain silent."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said: "Freedom of expression does not give anyone the right to justify terror attacks against Israeli citizens. It is unreasonable that an exhibition which is supposed to deal with preventing murder will include an exhibit which identifies with a woman responsible for the murder of dozens of Israelis. This is very dangerous."

The Foreign Minister added that the exhibit "reflects increased European identification with and justification of terror against Israel and demonstrates complete insensitivity and thoughtlessness to the suffering of the citizens of an entire state as well as those who have been injured and lost loved ones in terror attacks. It is common in Europe today, for the tables to be turned and for murderers to be labeled as victims, and that Israel is always guilty.

"We must view Ambassador Mazel's action as cry for everyone. His actions will raise the issue of the double standards with which Israel is judged and apathy towards the suffering of Israeli civilians in the face of Palestinian terror.

"Just as Israel would not provide shelter, artistic or otherwise, and in doing so justify or generate understanding towards the person that murdered the Swedish Foreign Minister, we also expect that Sweden and any other moral country, would not patronize an artistic exhibit justifying the murder of Israelis."


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