January 29, 2004
The attack by Zvi Mazel, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, on the work of art ‘Snow White and the madness of truth’ by Dror Feiler* and Gunilla Skold Feiler was not about art. It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that an official representative for a country calling itself a democracy should behave like a football hooligan.
It turns out that this was not an expression of spontaneous fury on the part of the ambassador. In a number of subsequent interviews Mazel made it clear that the attack was premeditated, decided upon before he had arrived at the exhibition and seen the work of art.
The ambassador’s act of vandalism has received fulsome support, indeed wholehearted endorsement, from the Israeli government, Ariel Sharon himself affirming that ‘the phenomenon is so serious that it would have been forbidden not to have acted on the spot’! Thus the ambassador’s action is fully in line with current Israeli policy.
This is revealed, yet again, as one of trampling on laws and rules for civilised relations between individuals and nations, resorting instead to preemptive intervention and violence. A similar pattern unfolds, a contempt for international law and for opponents of the policies of the Israeli government.
In this context we should not forget the ambassador’s statement on Swedish TV news on the night of the opening of the exhibition, screaming that there is no Israeli Occupation and claiming all Palestinians and Arabs to be terrorists. It is statements like these that his government has no difficulty in endorsing. The ambassador’s actions are an attack on freedom of expression in Sweden and in Europe, and are in line with the wider Israeli government approach of increasingly branding any criticism of its policies as antisemitic.
We Jews of Europe who are striving for peaceful co-existence and mutual respect between Israelis and Palestinians and for a peaceful resolution of the Middle-East conflict, condemn Ambassador Mazel’s attack on freedom of expression and his attempt to silence criticism of the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
European Jews for a Just Peace Executive Committee
29th January 2004
* Dror Feiler is a member of the Executive Committee of European Jews for a Just Peace, a federation of Jewish groups in nine different European countries. He has not taken part in the production of this statement.