Tuesday, January 20, 2004
(Based on "Tevye's Dream" from "Fiddler on the Roof")
They Build Walls, Don't They?
United Emirates of America
Ariel Bin Sharon
Curator of the Tel Aviv Museum, Doron Luria, said Sunday that he understood Mazel and that the artwork was an inferior piece of provocation. "The piece is simply not worth all of the excitement…I sympathize completely with the ambassador's actions. There is no place for such an idiotic piece in Stockholm," Luria said. Feiler told Army Radio Sunday morning that his artwork was misunderstood. "The display itself is against violence. It can be summed up by a biblical quote: 'He who spills human blood shall have his own blood spilled by man,' and this is exactly what we need to put an end to. The Israeli ambassador caused diplomatic and political damage to Israel, and since he is an intellectual midget, his actions were similar to those of a stall owner in a third world country," Feiler said.
Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel decided unilaterally that "Snow White and the Madness of Truth" -- an exhibit of an installation by former Israeli, Dror Feiler, and his Swedish wife Gunilla Sköld Feiler -- represented a glorification of suicide bombers - and showed his displeasure by deliberately vandalizing the installation's presentation at Stockholm's Museum of National Antiquities. Despite the international crisis and horrifying example, fellow Kristallnacht resurrectors, Ariel Sharon and Tel Aviv Museum's curator, Doron Luria, praised Mazel's action, paving way for diplomatic-immunity-protected vandalism at Israel's own Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, for those who feel (regardless of artist's intentions) that it glorifies genocide. Do idiocy and arrogance have no bounds?
Israel's ambassador said Monday he had no regrets about trying to damage a Swedish art exhibit that depicted a Palestinian suicide bomber, a move that has prompted a rare diplomatic spat between the two countries.
After meeting with the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Zvi Mazel said he didn't apologize and "acted on behalf of my feelings and couldn't have reacted in any other way."
On Friday, Mazel was asked to leave the Museum of National Antiquities after throwing a mounted spotlight at the courtyard exhibit in an attempt to damage it.
Prime Minister Goeran Persson was critical of Mazel's actions.
"It's not up to foreign countries' ambassadors to act as judges in this perspective," he said. "I have, as I've said before, not seen the artwork. I have no opinion about it, but it's the behaviour that we are against."
The exhibit opened in connection with an international conference in Stockholm later this month on preventing genocide. Museum director Kristian Berg said the ambassador's attack "struck a discordant note" with the theme of the conference.
Israel has demanded that the work be withdrawn and said it would withdraw from the conference on preventing genocide if it isn't taken down.
"This is not art. This is a political provocation, a support of mass murder, genocide in Israel," Mazel told Swedish news agency TT.
In Tel Aviv meanwhile, artist Uri Lev erected a hastily constructed protest outside the Swedish embassy.
In the work, entitled Swedeness, Lev has filled a bath tub with red liquid, and scattered dolls' limbs, representing the blood and bodies of terror victims. Above the tub was a Swedish flag, with a yellow swastika replacing the yellow cross.
The work was sympathetically received by passersby.(sic)
Mazel's real target then, was not so much this specific work but the sense that European nations like Sweden have grown dangerously indulgent in allowing legitimate criticism of Israel to slip over the border into outright incitement and anti-Semitism.
This is confirmed by the subsequent supportive reactions expressed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: "Mazel behaved properly. The phenomenon [of rising anti-Semitism] is so outrageous that it could not be ignored without a response. I hope – and am sure – that everyone joins me in backing Mazel up"; and of Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom:
"Ambassador Mazel's actions must be understood as an outcry from all of us. If it enabled the ambassador to draw attention to the issue of double standards held against Israel and the indifference to the suffering of Israeli citizens from Palestinian terror,that is good."
Mazel's deliberate outburst then, was clearly a more general protest act against this dangerous trend. As such, it was a bold, creative gesture in expressing our national indignation, and far more effective in grabbing the media and public's imagination than the usual dull diplomatic protest. Would that more of Israel's hasbara efforts were so clever.
The Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yoav Biran, summoned Robert Rydberg, Ambassador of Sweden in Israel, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday to convey an official protest concerning the Stockholm museum exhibit.
The Director General and the Deputy Director General for Europe, who was present at the meeting, noted that under the cover of "art" Sweden violated understandings with Israel that the conference, the subject of which is genocide and the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust, would not in any way touch upon the Middle East conflict.
The Director General also rejected the claim that the object of the dispute was an "artistic exhibit." Our love and appreciation of art, he noted, is not less than other peoples, but we will not accept inciting or distorted political messages even when they come under the heading of art.
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