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A blog on terrorism, democracy and international politics

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Freedom to offend against decency 

Israel's ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, has been criticised for allegedly damaging artwork.

Zvi Mazel was attending the Making Differences exhibition at Stockholm's Historiska Museet as part of an international anti-genocide conference. Israel had apparently been assured by the Swedish Government that the conference would not be linked to the conflict in the Middle East. However, one exhibit, "Snow White and the Madness of Truth",

consisted of a rectangular basin filled with red water on which floated a boat carrying a portrait of Islamic Jihad suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat, who killed herself and 21 others in an attack at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa on October 4.


As Mazel put it,

This was not a piece of art. . . It was a monstrosity. An obscene distortion of reality."


Both Mazel and the Israeli Government requested that the exhibit be removed. When it was not, Mazel protested by unplugging the spotlights that illuminated the exhibit, and placing one of the spotlights in the basin.

He has been summoned by the Israeli Government to explain his actions.

Lapping up the publicity, Dror Feiler, an Israeli residing in Sweden who created the exhibit with his Swedish wife Gunilla, described Mazel's protest as vandalism. The museum director also condemned the protest, saying "If you don't like what you see, you can leave the premises."

Such a 'liberated' approach may convince woolly liberals, but would it sound as plausible if the exhibit had been a large swastika flag, or a canister of Zyklon-b? Is there a significant difference?

(Via World Press Review)

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