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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 16:39 GMT
Bomber art attack furore spreads
Swedish artists Gunilla Skoeld Feiler (L) and Israeli-born Dror Feiler with their restored art installation, called Snow White
The ambassador threw a spotlight at the exhibit
Israel's ambassador to Sweden has been questioned about attacking an artwork showing a Palestinian suicide bomber.

The envoy, Zvi Mazel, is unrepentant, calling the work a "call to genocide" but the Swedish Government says his actions are "unacceptable".

Meanwhile the artistic director of the museum, which is keeping the work on display, has reportedly been attacked.

Artist Dror Feiler, who is also said to have been threatened, said the envoy's actions made reconciliation harder.

He told the BBC World Service that his work was "absolutely not" a glorification of suicide bombers as had been claimed and criticised Mr Mazel for a "stupid act".

I couldn't have reacted in any other way
Zvi Mazel
"[My wife] came running to tell me... the ambassador was destroying our installation," the Israeli-born artist told the World Today programme.

"When I got there, I could see he had disconnected some of the lights."

Mr Feiler said he tried to persuade the ambassador to read the accompanying text which explained how innocent people had been killed in the attack by the bomber whose photograph he had used, but had been rebuffed.

Anti-genocide

The artwork, Snow White and the Madness of Truth, is included in the "Making Differences" exhibition accompanying an upcoming international anti-genocide conference hosted by the Swedish Government.

It consists of a boat carrying a photograph of female suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat, floating in a pool of red liquid. The exhibit is accompanied by the JS Bach cantata My Heart Is Swimming In Blood.

I, as any sane human being, think that suicide bombings are a very horrible thing and totally destructive
Dror Feiler
Jaradat, a 29-year-old trainee lawyer, killed at least 21 people in a Haifa restaurant in October, one of the bloodiest of the suicide bombings by Palestinian militants.

Ambassador Mazel was summoned to the Swedish foreign office on Monday to account for his actions, which led to him being thrown out of the museum.

But he said he did not apologise, explaining that he "acted on behalf of my feelings and couldn't have reacted in any other way", quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon praised the ambassador's actions, saying that anti-Semitism was such a problem "it would have been forbidden not to have acted on the spot".

Mr Mazel said he was surprised that the museum was continuing to exhibit the work.

E-mailed threats

Danish radio reported that two of the museum's top staff as well as the artist had received threats.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The Israeli ambassador's reasons and emotions are very understandable
Doro

It said the artistic director, Thomas Nordanstand, alone had received 400 e-mails about the installation, most of them abusive and one containing a death threat.

Mr Nordanstand was also shoved down the museum's steps as he smoked a cigarette outside the building on Sunday but managed to grab a rail to break his fall, the radio said.

Sweden's Ambassador to Israel, Robert Rydberg, said there had been "a misinterpretation of a piece of art which may very well be in bad taste, very bad taste, but which is not a justification of suicide bombers".

In a separate development, Mr Mazel confirmed on Monday that Israel would be vacating the building that houses its embassy in Stockholm after 50 years, Israeli radio reported.

He said the building's owners thought Israel's presence was a security risk.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Mike Donkin
"In Stockholm, the Swedes are unrepentent"



SEE ALSO:
Israeli envoy wrecks art exhibit
28 Jan 04  |  Europe
Three Israeli generations torn apart
06 Oct 03  |  Middle East
Mid-East cycle of vengeance
05 Oct 03  |  Middle East


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