Hanadi Jaradat was a murderer. She blew herself up in a restaurant in Haifa last October, killing 21 people. For that she has been lionized in an exhibit in the Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm — at least until Zvi Mazel, the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, got there. In a blow for decency and common sense, Mazel wrecked the exhibit. This report is from the Jerusalem Post, with thanks to all the many people who sent this to me: (Update: the Post has now replaced at this link the story quoted here with an updated one, but the points made below are unchanged.)
In what the avant garde might call a transgressive work of performance art, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, wrecked Friday an exhibit in Stockholm’s Museum of National Antiquities depicting a Palestinian suicide bomber.
Located in the museum’s courtyard, “Snow White and the Madness of Truth” depicted a smiling Hanadi Jaradat, the Maxim restaurant suicide bomber who killed 21 patrons and staff as well as herself on October 4. Her photograph was placed on a little boat floating in a basin filled with water dyed red.
The ambassador was a guest at the opening of the museum’s exhibition, which is linked to an international conference on genocide, “Stockholm International Forum: Preventing Genocide – Threats and Responsibilities,” to be held January 26-28.
Israel has threatened to boycott the conference if the museum’s “Making Differences” exhibit on the Middle East conflict is not dismantled, Army Radio reported, saying that the exhibition breaks understandings Israel reached with Sweden.
“This was not a piece of art,” the ambassador told Sweden’s SR radio news station. “It was a monstrosity.”
“For me it was intolerable and an insult to the families of the victims,” he said. “As ambassador [of] Israel I could not remain indifferent to such an obscene misrepresentation of reality.”
Swedish authorities offered predictable dhimmitude in response: accusations of Mazel, denial that the exhibit was a provocation, invocations of freedom of speech, insinuations that somehow the murder of civilians is justified in Israel:
Museum director Kristian Berg suggested that Mazel endangered those in the museum. “He pulled out the plugs and threw one of the spotlights into the fountain, which caused the entire installation to short-circuit and made it totally life-threatening,” Berg told Swedish news agency TT, AFP reported.
The museum director said he did not consider the artwork to be a provocation. “It is rather an invitation to think about why such things happen in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.
Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Larsson said the ambassador will be asked to explain his attack. “We will ask him to explain and from our side we will maintain that it is unacceptable to destroy works of art in this way,” Larsson said.
The artists behind the installation are musician Dror Feiler – himself an Israeli Swede – and his Swedish wife Gunilla Skold Feiler. Feiler, who described the ambassador’s actions as “vandalism,” announced that he would not perform as long as Mazel was present. The museum director requested that the ambassador leave, then escorted him out.
Feiler told the Associated Press that his installation aimed to call attention to how weak people left alone can be capable of horrible things. “[Mazel] tried to stop free speech and free artistic expression from being carried out in Sweden,” Feiler said.
As a political activist, Feiler is president of Jews for Israeli Palestinian Peace, which initiated a campaign entitled “Jewish Manifesto: Sharon is Israel’s Worst Enemy.”
Feiler describes himself as the “eye-bleeding ultimate composer of intifadic and eruptive lung-outs.”