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Swedish 'Art' Outrage

Swedish 'Art' Outrage

A formal protest would have been lost in the back channels of European diplomacy. So he chose to scream.


On January 16, Israel's ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, attended a Stockholm art show linked to an international conference on preventing genocide. Mazel was shocked to encounter there a large exhibit glorifying the Palestinian terrorist who murdered 21 Israelis at Haifa's Maxim restaurant in October.

Dubbed "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," the exhibit showed a tiny sailboat floating on a pool of red water. Attached to the boat was a smiling photo of the female bomber, Hanadi Jaradat. In protest, Mazel pulled the plug on three spotlights illuminating the exhibit, and knocked one light fixture into the red pool.

While one could debate if Mazel's act was appropriate, it is essential to recognize that this story runs far deeper than one art exhibit. Associated Press provides important background context to the story:

There has long been debate over where criticism of Israel ends and anti-Semitism begins. The current round touched a deeper chord, because many Israelis feel outsiders often accept the Palestinians' use of suicide bombings against civilians.

As Ambassador Mazel explained:

This exhibit was the culmination of dozens of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish events in Sweden. When you don't protest it gets worse and worse. It had to be stopped somehow, even by deviating from the behavior of the buttoned-down diplomat.

The Israeli government supports Mazel's protest, and the Jerusalem Post had this to say:

As for "diplomacy," Mazel was communicating his point in the only way possible. A formal protest would merely have been "duly registered," filtered and lost in the back channels of European diplomacy. So he chose to scream. But screaming was the only option Europe now gives Israel.

Dutch television has actual film of Mazel, calmly walking around the exhibit, unplugging the spotlights, and pushing one of the (unplugged) lights into the water.


Media coverage largely downplayed the exhibit's clear glorification of genocide -- a grave irony, given the theme of the conference. Media reports instead suggested that the exhibit's meaning is open to broad interpretation, or that it merely laments all Mideast bloodshed.

Absent from nearly all reports was the poetic text accompanying the exhibit, submitted by the artists, which juxtaposes the 'beauty' of the red pool of blood upon the moral 'Snow-whiteness' of the terrorist:

For the June 12 deaths of her brother, and her cousin... seemingly innocent with universal non-violent character... Weeping bitterly, she added: 'If our nation cannot realize its dream and the goals of the victims, and live in freedom and dignity, then let the whole world be erased'... Run away, then, you poor child... and the red looked beautiful upon the white.

Here are three examples of the media's selective omission:

  1. BBC wrote: "Its Israeli-born creator rejected the charge [of condoning violence], saying the work had a message of openness and conciliation... 'I'm absolutely opposed to suicide bombers', he added."
  2. The New York Times News Service reports that one of the artists explained: "I wanted to show how incomprehensible it is that a mother of two -- who is a lawyer no less -- can do such a thing," she said, apparently confusing the Haifa bombing with an attack last week by another Palestinian woman.
  3. The (UK) Observer spun the story 180-degrees, presenting Mazel -- not the Palestinian! -- as the killer: Peaceful Swedes were nearly killed when "an ambassador erupted in violent protest... [Mazel] ripped out electrical wires, grabbed a spotlight and hurled it into a fountain, causing it to short circuit and become a potential death trap."
  4. Did your local paper's coverage of Mazel's act of protest fail to note the artists' accompanying text, which casts a mass murderer as a 'Snow-white' victim? If so, write a letter to the editor, questioning the omission of the artist's literal 'whitewash' of Palestinian terror.

January 19, 2004

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 19

(19) Reuven B., December 31, 2004 12:00 AM

Why do yo uaccuse him of destoying the "ART"? he just took off the spotlights. He did nothing to deface the actual painting. I feel saddened that this work was even displayed at all. it is not a piece of art, rather another smear on the jews and israel. And thank you anne-marie, for showing your support for israel

(18) Nathan Brooks, February 23, 2004 12:00 AM

How wrong Theo is

Theo I must fist say that no everyone doesnt know that suicide bomings are wrong or there wouldnt be people in this world 1. committing the acts 2. people praising them for their actions and 3. people teaching children that blowing themselves up is one of the greatest things they could do with their lives.

Your claim on terrorism, Terrorism is not on both sides. Terrorism: deliberate and systematic assault on civilians to inspire fear for political ends.

The Israel "DEFENSE" Force making strategic attacks to kill those that perpetrate horrible crimes against humanity is not the same as a palestinian targeting children and blowing themselves up on a crowded street.

People who purposely attack innocents are not interested in freedom!

(17) David Green, January 29, 2004 12:00 AM

This article is distorted and should not have been published on an eminent Jewish website.

There is no clear evidence that the exhibit glorifies genocide. The author deliberately reports only selective content from the exhibit. He also omits that the artist is Israeli. There is little doubt that there are problems with the exhibit, but that is more a problem of the art world than a statement about anti-Semitism.

The New York Times News Service reports that one of the artists explained: "I wanted to show how incomprehensible it is that a mother of two -- who is a lawyer no less -- can do such a thing," she said, apparently confusing the Haifa bombing with an attack last week by another Palestinian woman.

From this evidence, one could just as easily conclude that the exhibit is a protest against suicide bombing.

As for 'Snow White,' the very name is an insult to Israel and the victims of terrorism, as one thinks of a pure, innocent girl. It was a case of bad judgment by the museum, and not necessarily anti-Semitism.

(16) Theo, January 28, 2004 12:00 AM

Comment on Ambassador's Reactions


I am just writing to say that what the Ambassador did was completely wrong. How can a person of such stature vandalize a piece of art from the country that is hosting him?

Your article is completely biased. Why is the word art in quotation marks. It is art. The artist is not condoning suicide bombers by portraying what he did. Every person with a right mind knows suicide bombing is wrong.

But then again so is trashing down houses of indigenous people and shooting innocent women and children. Palestinians have no central intelligence, as opposed to Israel. So why is that Israeli's end up killing innocent civilians?

Terrorism is on both sides.

(15) Anders Carlson, January 26, 2004 12:00 AM

To humiliate, scoff at Israel and the Jewish people is fully alloed, but if you say or writing something negative about Palestina, the Plaestinian people or Islam, than you are an racist. My solidarity with Israel and the Jews are now stronger than never. The ambassador Zvi Mazel have my appreciation for what he did in Stockholm when he spoiled the exhibition which glorifyed a suicide bomber.
Solidarity with the holy land Israel.

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