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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 12:24 GMT
Sharon praises 'art vandal' envoy
Swedish artists Gunilla Skoeld Feiler (L) and Israeli-born Dror Feiler with their restored art installation, called Snow White
Israeli-born artist Dror Feiler (r): Mazel "tried to stop free speech"
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has praised his ambassador to Sweden after he vandalised an art exhibit featuring a Palestinian suicide bomber.

Ambassador Zvi Mazel was ejected from a Stockholm museum after the incident.

Mr Mazel said the work, created by an Israeli-born artist, was "a call for genocide".

Israel has called on the Swedish Government to dismantle the exhibit, which has a boat floating in a pool of red liquid.

"I think the phenomenon [of anti-Semitism] is so serious that it would have been forbidden not to have acted on the spot," Mr Sharon said.

But the expatriate Israeli artist, Dror Feiler, rejected the criticism of his work, saying it had a message of openness and conciliation.

"I'm absolutely opposed to suicide bombers," he added.

Mr Feiler called the envoy "an intellectual dwarf" who had tried to "stop free speech and free artistic expression".

Sweden's foreign ministry has summoned Mr Mazel to give an explanation for his actions on Monday.

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Ambassador Mazel was expelled from Stockholm's Museum of Antiquities on Friday after he threw a spotlight at the exhibit.

Called Snow White And The Madness Of Truth, the installation features a photo of Hanadi Jaradat, a 29-year-old trainee lawyer who blew up herself and 19 Israelis in a Haifa restaurant in October.

The work is accompanied by a piece of Bach music entitled My Heart Is Swimming In Blood.

The installation was commissioned ahead of a conference on genocide to be held later in January.

Ambassador Zvi Mazel (archive image)
Mr Mazel was attending the opening of the exhibition

"I called our ambassador in Sweden Zvi Mazel last night and thanked him for his strength in dealing with increasing anti-Semitism, and told him that the entire government stands behind him," Mr Sharon told a cabinet meeting Sunday.

"I think Ambassador Mazel behaved in an appropriate way."

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman David Saranger had urged the Swedish Government to "take steps to remove it".

The director of the museum, Kristian Berg, said the installation would remain in place.

"You can have your own view of what this piece of art is all about, but it is never, never allowed to use violence and it is never allowed to try to silence the artist," he said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Candice Talberg
"Israel's ambassador attacked the installation, demanding its removal"



SEE ALSO:
Israeli envoy wrecks art exhibit
26 Jan 04  |  Europe
Three Israeli generations torn apart
06 Oct 03  |  Middle East


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