ISRAEL VS. FREE SPEECH DESCENT INTO BARBARISM
By: Justin Raimondo
When Israel's ambassador to Sweden vandalized a work of art that he found offensive on exhibition at Sweden's Museum of National Antiquities, Zvi Mazel did the world a service: he opened our eyes to Israel's descent into barbarism. Just as Israeli tanks bulldoze entire blocks of Palestinian homes, so her ambassador seeks to bulldoze the rising tide of protest against Israeli government policies in the West.
The artwork, by Israeli artist Dror Feiler and his Swedish wife, Gunilla, featured a pool of red water illuminated by spotlights in which a small boat floats, its sail a photo of suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat.
The incident was captured on video, and if you want to see the full ugliness of the face that Israel now chooses to present to the world, check it out: Real Player dialup, Real Player broadband, Windows Media dialup, Windows Media broadband.
This video is fascinating in that it thoroughly debunks the impression given by Mazel and his supporters that this was an impetuous act, brought about by righteous rage over a hideous act of anti-Semitism. Instead of Mazel on an emotional rampage, it shows the cool calculated way in which the ambassador walked unhurriedly around the pool, calmly unplugging the spotlights and pushing one of them into the water, like an actor following a script.
We are then treated to the confrontation between Mazel and the museum director, who asks, plaintively, "but didn't you read the statement?" He is referring to the artists' statement accompanying the installation, which does not in any way condone violence. Indeed, it expresses sympathy for the victims of Ms. Jaradat's act, even while seeking to explain it. But in addressing Mazel as if he were open to reason, the director was wasting his breath. If this wasn't a planned provocation, then it certainly succeeded in looking like one.
It is clear even in the title of the Feiler's work, "Snow White and the Madness of Truth," that the artists, far from endorsing, advocating, or glorifying Jaradat's mad act, are quite clearly horrified by it. The smiling face of a beautiful woman floating on an ocean of blood is hardly an image likely to generate much sympathy for suicide bombers: to characterize this as propaganda on behalf of Islamic Jihad is visibly and jarringly wrong.
But the artwork itself no longer matters, because the Israelis have now made this the latest chapter in their ongoing propaganda narrative about "anti-Semitic" and "hate-filled" Europe – where speech deemed anti-Semitic is outlawed and the faintest weakest echo of Hitlerian ideology is relentlessly silenced. But, again, none of this matters. As a propagandistic exercise, Mazel's provocation was designed to challenge the very idea that "the madness of truth" needs to be explained. Because to examine it too closely is to focus on Israel's role in perpetuating the cycle of violence – and that cannot be permitted.
Mazel's real motive comes through in an interview with an Indian newspaper, Sify, which reports "part of his motivation was an anti-Israeli stance by the Swedish governing party and the country's press." Ah, now we're getting the real story! "The Social Democracy in this country is pro-Arab," Mazel whines. "There are many voices which are pro-Islamic and anti-Israeli. We've got a problem."
The Swedish media also requires correction:
"Everything Israel does is bad. When you read the press in Sweden, Israel is always the bad guy. The press in Sweden is completely anti-Israeli. … I'm accustomed to it, but when I saw a creation which is meant to be a glorification of terror, of suicide bombings, I could not hold myself back."
What a crock.
Mazel's outrageous act took everyone by surprise, but it fits the recent pattern of official Israeli behavior: the Wall of Separation, the endless incursions into Palestinian territory, open defiance of the U.S. government's feeble attempts to rein them in. All this is part and parcel of a general offensive on the part of Israel's amen cormer worldwide, a series of provocative acts that dramatizes the unleashing of Israeli power in the wake of the American invasion of Iraq – and not only in the Middle East. Cynical manipulation and aggression on every front: these are the methods that characterize Israeli policy and the tactics of its partisans in every country.
Free speech is everywhere the enemy of Israel's interests – and the Israelis know it. That's why their amen corner, both here and abroad, is ratcheting up the campaign to smear critics of Israel and impose limits on their right of free expression: "Freedom of art is not limitless," brays Mazel. "There are always some limits." The only thing there seems to be no limit on is the brazen aggression of Israel and its apologists.
Justin Raimondo is Editorial Director of AntiWar.Com. He is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.
Justin Raimondo may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the January 21, 2004 issue of Ether Zone Copyright © 1997 - 2004 Ether Zone.