Sweden 3: Pro-Palestinian suicide bomber posters removed from subway stations

January 22, 2004

CONTENTS

1. "Swedish museum to remove suicide bomber posters" (AP, January 20, 2004)
2. "Israel's Participation in the Stockholm Conference on Genocide" (Israel FM Press Release, Jan. 21, 2004)
3. "Holocaust education, Swedish-style" (By Efraim Zuroff, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 20, 2004)
4. "It's inciting murder" (By Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, Jan. 22, 2004)
5. "Swedes, Belgians told not to vote for Israel in Eurovision Song Contest" (Ha'aretz, May 26, 2002)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This is a follow up to the dispatches of January 19, 2004:

* Sweden 1: The killer as Snow White
* Sweden 2: The ambassador and the artist debate live on Israel radio

I attach five articles, with summaries I prepared first for those who don't have time to read the pieces in full.

 

SUMMARIES

SWEDISH MUSEUM TO REMOVE SUICIDE BOMBER POSTERS

The Associated Press reports (January 20, 2004):

"A Swedish museum official said that he will remove posters showing a Palestinian suicide bomber that were posted in 26 subway stations throughout Stockholm to advertise the exhibit... [But] museum officials said the exhibit itself will continue."

 

ISRAEL'S PARTICIPATION IN THE STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE ON GENOCIDE

Israel Foreign Ministry Press Release, Jerusalem, January 21, 2004:

"Israel has decided to lower the level of its representation at the Conference on the Prevention of Genocide scheduled to take place in Stockholm next week... Israel regrets that the conditions are not favorable to representation on a more senior level... Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivolds called Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom this morning and reiterated the Swedish government's condemnation of all terrorism, especially suicide terror."

 

"HOLOCAUST EDUCATION, SWEDISH-STYLE"

Efraim Zuroff, the world's leading Nazi-hunter, and a longtime subscriber to this email list, writes in The Jerusalem Post (January 20, 2004):

"On the surface, the notion of a European Union member-state condoning the staging of an artistic display glorifying a Palestinian suicide bomber as an event held in conjunction with a conference on preventing genocide seems absurd. In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, or the Palestinian Authority such a juxtaposition would hardly raise an eyebrow, but how could such a thing take place in Sweden, a country ostensibly committed to human rights and freedoms?

...As it turns out in Sweden's case, however, reputations are one thing, reality quite another, a lesson I learned over almost two decades in my dealings with the Swedish government on several issues relating to the Holocaust... at least 21 suspected Baltic Nazi war criminals were admitted to Sweden toward the end of World War II and have been living there ever since. Among them were several persons who had played a very prominent role in the mass murder of Jews, people such as Oskar Angelus, who established the Estonian Political Police and served as minister of internal affairs in the collaborationist Estonian administration, and Karlis Lobe, who founded the Latvian Security Police battalions and headed the Latvian police in Ventspils.

...In November 1986, we appealed to Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson to launch a full-scale investigation... The Swedish government had no such intention, however. It responded about four months later that although several of the suspects were indeed living in Sweden (the others had already died there), they would not investigate, let alone prosecute, their cases... In fact, a careful reading of the Swedish response reveals the extent of Swedish duplicity... Thus in total contradiction to extensive documentation, scholarship and witness testimony, the Swedes claimed it was impossible to judge from the sources available "how far native collaborators participated in the Germans' genocidal actions."

...[When the Swedish government finally widened their teaching of the Holocaust in 1998] the text prepared by the Swedes almost completely ignored Sweden's role during and after World War II, such as Sweden's refusal to admit Jewish refugees during the 1930s, Sweden's granting permission to Nazi troops to pass through Sweden on their way to occupy Norway, or the fact that Sweden continued to the very end of World War II to supply Germany with the nickel, chrome, and iron necessary to keep the Nazis' war machine functioning... it is perhaps not so surprising that an exhibit lauding a Palestinian suicide bomber would be included as an official event in the framework of a conference on genocide, a direct outgrowth of the original Swedish initiative on Holocaust education."

[A longer version of this article by Dr. Efraim Zuroff can be found in the "Jewish Political Studies Review" [JPSR] (Vol. 14, 3&4, Fall 2002), entitled: "Sweden's Refusal to Prosecute Nazi War Criminals: 1986-2002."]

 

"IT'S INCITING MURDER"

Jonathan Jones reports in The Guardian (January 22, 2004):

"To me, her smile is grotesque. She floats there, the Mona Lisa of mayhem, her photograph forming the sail of a little toy boat on a pool of blood. The pool is half-frozen, and the blood seeps into the pure white snow covering the courtyard garden... Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, has publicly supported his ambassador, with some enthusiasm... Passion is always attractive; reports around the world, especially in the Israeli and American press, have found in Mazel a popular hero, the undiplomatic diplomat.

... But none of these people has gone to Sweden, to look at the installation Snow White and the Madness of Truth... The offending installation - rapidly restored after Mazel's attack - is out of doors, in a courtyard garden. The garden is rather beautiful. [But the exhibit is] horrible, it's sick, but I can't for one moment accept that it is an apology for a suicide bomber. Everyone interprets art differently. That's what makes it art. If this were a propaganda work, the museum would have a case to answer - maybe. But it's not..."

 

SWEDES, BELGIANS TOLD NOT TO VOTE FOR ISRAEL IN [2002] EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

Ha'aretz reports (May 26, 2002):

"The Belgian and Swedish Jewish communities were left fuming by last night's Eurovision song contest, held in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, after their local presenters advised viewers not to vote for Israel's entry, Sarit Hadad. Swedes watching the national TV1 station said that the presenters announced before Hadad appeared that Israel was not even meant to take part in the contest "because of what it is doing to the Palestinians." The Swedish jury did not award any points to Israel."


FULL ARTICLES

SWEDISH MUSEUM TO REMOVE SUICIDE BOMBER POSTERS

Swedish museum to remove suicide bomber posters
The Associated Press
January 20, 2004

A Swedish museum official said Tuesday that he will remove posters for an art exhibition that sparked a diplomatic spat with Israel, but said the display at the root of the controversy will remain.

The man in charge of the exhibition at the Museum of National Antiquities said he will take down posters showing a Palestinian suicide bomber that were posted in 26 subway stations throughout Stockholm to advertise the exhibit.

"This is a personal decision where I as an artistic leader take full responsibility of removing and replacing the posters," Thomas Nordanstad
said.

Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazel on Friday vandalized an art installation that featured a portrait of Jihad suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat. She killed herself and 21 bystanders in an October 4 suicide bombing in Haifa.

Mazel said the display, made by Israeli-born artist Dror Feiler, glorified suicide bombers.

Museum officials said the exhibit will go on and the Swedish government declined to interfere, saying it doesn't control the country's museums.

The museum has set up 130 posters advertising the exhibition, but only those carrying the image of Jaradat, will be removed and replaced with another image from the exhibition, Nordanstad said. He didn't say what the replacement image would be.

 

ISRAEL'S PARTICIPATION IN THE STOCKHOLM CONFERENCE ON GENOCIDE

Israel's Participation in the Stockholm Conference on Genocide
(Communciated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
Jerusalem
January 21, 2004

Israel has decided to lower the level of its representation at the Conference on the Prevention of Genocide scheduled to take place in Stockholm next week. Israel will be represented by low-ranking officials only.

Israel regrets that the conditions are not favorable to representation on a more senior level.

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivolds called Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom this morning. During the conversation, the Swedish minister expressed regret over the incident and reiterated the Swedish government's condemnation of all terrorism, especially suicide terror. She noted the good relations between the two states and the two peoples.

Mr. Shalom made clear to the Swedish foreign minister the deep shock felt by the Israeli people at the inclusion of such a repulsive exhibit at an exhibition connected to a conference on the subject of the prevention of genocide. He called on Sweden to act vigorously to promote relations and understanding between the two states, especially in light of the damage caused by the exhibit to public opinion in both countries.

Considering the importance of the Conference for the Prevention of Genocide, the fourth and final part in a series of conferences initiated by the Swedish prime minister, and the seriousness with which Israel views the fact that the offensive exhibit is still being displayed, it was decided that Israel will be represented at the conference by low-ranking officials, and not on the level that was originally planned.

 

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION, SWEDISH-STYLE

Holocaust education, Swedish-style
By Efraim Zuroff
The Jerusalem Post
January 20, 2004

On the surface, the notion of a European Union member-state condoning the staging of an artistic display glorifying a Palestinian suicide bomber as an event held in conjunction with a conference on preventing genocide seems absurd.

In Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, or the Palestinian Authority such a juxtaposition would hardly raise an eyebrow, but how could such a thing take place in Sweden, a country ostensibly committed to human rights and freedoms?

As it turns out in Sweden's case, however, reputations are one thing, reality quite another, a lesson I learned over almost two decades in my dealings with the Swedish government on several issues relating to the Holocaust.

About 17 years ago the Wiesenthal Center discovered that at least 21 suspected Baltic Nazi war criminals had been admitted to Sweden toward the end of World War II and had been living there ever since. Among them were several persons who had played a very prominent role in the mass murder of Jews, people such as Oskar Angelus, who established the Estonian Political Police and served as minister of internal affairs in the collaborationist Estonian administration, and Karlis Lobe, who founded the Latvian Security Police battalions and headed the Latvian police in Ventspils.

It was already clear then that the names known to us were only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Thus in November 1986, the center appealed to Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson to launch a full-scale investigation - not only of these cases, but also to determine whether any additional Nazi war criminals were living in the country.

Given Sweden's reputation on human rights issues we assumed that the government would understand the severity of the problem and not shirk its responsibility to take action.

The Swedish government had no such intention, however. It responded about four months later that although several of the suspects were indeed living in Sweden (the others had already died there), they would not investigate, let alone prosecute, their cases due to a statute of limitations of 25 years on murder.

Although the prosecution of genocide and/or crimes against humanity should take precedence over local legal obstacles, it was clear that the Swedes preferred to hide behind such arguments in order to evade their responsibility to pursue these cases. In fact, a careful reading of the Swedish response reveals the extent of Swedish duplicity.

Thus in total contradiction to extensive documentation, scholarship and witness testimony, the Swedes claimed it was impossible to judge from the sources available "how far native collaborators participated in the Germans' genocidal actions."

And contrary to the position adopted at the very same time by the US, Britain, Canada, and Australia - all of whom faced the same problem and had launched full-scale investigations to determine its scope - the Swedes claimed that any attempt to study the entry to Sweden of Nazi war criminals would be "hardly meaningful."

Given Sweden's refusal to deal honestly with the issue, it was naturally surprising to learn of their 1998 initiative to promote Holocaust education all over the world. Yet in this respect as well an examination of the material being used showed quite clearly that although the Swedes had no trouble dealing with Nazi crimes, they had no intention of confronting their own complicity in assisting Nazi Germany during World War II, or their failure to deal with the Holocaust perpetrators living in Sweden after the war.

Contrary to all educational logic and methodology the text prepared by the Swedes almost completely ignored Sweden's role during and after World War II, thereby sparing their schoolchildren any meaningful debate or discussion of such important topics as Sweden's refusal to admit Jewish refugees during the 1930s, Sweden's granting permission to Nazi troops to pass through Sweden on their way to occupy Norway, or the fact that Sweden continued to the very end of World War II to supply Germany with the nickel, chrome, and iron necessary to keep the Nazis' war machine functioning.

Under these circumstances, and given Sweden's decades-long political and material support for the Palestinians - often at Israel's expense - it is perhaps not so surprising that an exhibit lauding a Palestinian suicide bomber would be included as an official event in the framework of a conference on genocide, a direct outgrowth of the original Swedish initiative on Holocaust education.

In this age of the new anti-Semitism, those who belittled the fate of Jewish victims of the Holocaust by purposely ignoring the presence of those who killed them in their land, today choose to be utterly oblivious to the Jewish victims of Palestinian suicide bombers by presenting their murderer as a heroine. They do this in the context of efforts to prevent genocide, using the Israeli origin of the artist as incontrovertible proof of their objectivity.

The writer is director of the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. His study of Swedish policy on the prosecution of Nazi war criminals appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Jewish Political Studies Review.

 

IT'S INCITING MURDER

It's inciting murder
Jonathan Jones
The Guardian
January 22, 2004

To me, her smile is grotesque. She floats there, the Mona Lisa of mayhem, her photograph forming the sail of a little toy boat on a pool of blood. The pool is half-frozen, and the blood seeps into the pure white snow covering the courtyard garden. People gather in quiet, serious groups; TV cameras attend the Swedish minister of culture as she, too, looks quietly, seriously, at the gory pond.

Art vandalism is always a good story. Art vandalism by an ambassador against an artwork in the country with which he is employed to maintain diplomatic relations is something rarer - a new story. And this one just keeps growing. Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, has publicly supported his ambassador, with some enthusiasm. "I think Zvi Mazel behaved in an appropriate way," Sharon announced. "I called ... and thanked him for his stand against the growing wave of anti-semitism.

Passion is always attractive; reports around the world, especially in the Israeli and American press, have found in Mazel a popular hero, the undiplomatic diplomat, the man who decided to do something more committed than have a quiet word behind the scenes over the smorgasbord. The Jerusalem Post added a nuanced art-critical element by arguing that Israel's ambassador to Sweden should be acknowledged as a performance artist, and that his action was a "moral" work of art worth far more than the "banal" installation he damaged.

But none of these people has gone to Sweden, to look at the installation Snow White and the Madness of Truth by Gunilla Sköld Feiler and Dror Feiler, and see what all the fuss is about. So here I was, in the snow, trudging up to Sweden's equivalent of the British Museum ("But a lot smaller", its director admits). It is not some confrontational contemporary art space - in fact it is best known for its display of Viking rune stones. And so the first thing that strikes you is the excitement in the air. The place is embattled, exhilarated, with artists, publicists, directors and government ministers running around, while Swedes in droves have come to see for themselves why the museum has been declared an enemy of Israel.

The offending installation - rapidly restored after Mazel's attack - is out of doors, in a courtyard garden. The garden is rather beautiful. A tree, winter flowers still in bloom and, at the centre of the enclosed retreat, a rectangle full of blood.

The icy air heightens the impact of what might otherwise seem a fragile work at best. Bach's Cantata 199, Mein Herze Schwimmt im Blut (My Heart Swims in Blood), fills the courtyard with its keening. The beauty of the music completes the bizarre nature of the scene - and I don't mean only the installation, but ourselves as participants, wearing appropriate expressions, wondering what is a suitable response to a pool of blood. Someone explains that the de-icer in the liquid hasn't worked properly, but the lumps of red ice add to the effect.

It's horrible, it's sick, but I can't for one moment accept that it is an apology for a suicide bomber. Everyone interprets art differently. That's what makes it art. If this were a propaganda work, the museum would have a case to answer - maybe. But it's not. It's in very poor taste, if you like, but is there a tasteful way to talk about terrorism? About people disintegrating into bits of flesh? Which is what, to me, that chunky pool suggests.

My feeling about the face at the centre of all this, that of the bomber, is one of gross irony: that she is more famous than the people she killed. That photograph was circulated widely after the atrocity in Haifa last October; we've all seen it before. The flimsy cosmetic prettiness of the picture is what jars. That lipstick.

 

SWEDES, BELGIANS TOLD NOT TO VOTE FOR ISRAEL IN EUROVISION

Swedes, Belgians told not to vote for Israel in Eurovision
Ha'aretz
May 26, 2002

The Belgian and Swedish Jewish communities were left fuming by last night's Eurovision song contest, held in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, after their local presenters advised viewers not to vote for Israel's entry, Sarit Hadad.

Swedes watching the national TV1 station said that the presenters announced before Hadad appeared that Israel was not even meant to take part in the contest "because of what it is doing to the Palestinians."

The Swedish jury did not award any points to Israel. Belgian viewers were also advised not to vote for Israel. Its jury however awarded Hadad two points.

Hadad, who sang "Light a Candle," finished 12th with 37 points. The Latvian song "I Wanna" won the song contest.

Due to the Israeli song's ranking, Israel will participate in next year's contest, to be held in Latvia.

Yoav Ginai, who wrote the lyrics for the Israeli song, told Israel Radio that the delegation was very pleased with the result. "This is a great achievement in light of the difficult situation, and the political nature of the vote," Ginai told the radio.

The Israeli delegation, he said, encountered anti-Israel remarks during their week-long stay in Tallin. "We heard very unpleasant remarks at the hotel and during rehearsals," Ginai said.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.