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No peace for piece of art
January 17, 2004 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Israeli ambassador to Sweeden vandalises artwork. This is front page stuff in my part of the world and I truly hope, but doubt, that he will find himself out of work tomorrow. The question is: what was he thinking? Was it intentional? Could he have chosen to interpret the upsetting work of art in another less disturbing way?
posted by FidelDonson (94 comments total)

 
This is a short real player clip of the ambassador running amok He is the man in black pushing a lamp into the pond of blood

The embassy supports the ambassador - calling the work of art a monstrosity that legitimizes genocide.
posted by FidelDonson at 8:18 AM on January 17, 2004


Maybe his response was performance art?
posted by Mick at 8:21 AM on January 17, 2004


5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

Deuteronomy 7, KJV
posted by the fire you left me at 8:40 AM on January 17, 2004


ambassador running amok
See he made it more descructive while throwing the lamps in the pool, first unplugging the lamps' power cord.
posted by thomcatspike at 8:51 AM on January 17, 2004


He unplugged, and then threw a halogen work light into a pool of red water. I really can't see that he damaged the work in any way. The guy was totally disgusted with some guy's art project glorifying the murder of 17 people.
posted by cameldrv at 8:57 AM on January 17, 2004


I wonder if it's appropriate to criticize the validity of this as art, It’s just a basin of blood-colored water and what appears to be a Styrofoam boat. It is not original, it is not particularly thought provoking, it just means to provoke anger and exploit a horrible act of violence.
Coming from that point of view, I can certainly understand the ambassadors emotions, although I can not condone his actions. Then again, I am not from a country that is weekly stricken with attacks such as these.
posted by cyphill at 9:01 AM on January 17, 2004


Deuteronomy 7, KJV
huh, art not church service. If you took the 9/11 hijacker's picture and made a memorial only showing them it would not Make(ing) Differences(the exhibit's "name" but Hatred InDifferences.

Free expression is fine, would any one consider this "troll art" instead? Can I walk in to a theatre then shout fire: the art of watching a crowd become chaotic? There is a fine line with this Swedish exhibit if you want to say "freedom of expression" which I'm not sure you can as Sweden is a socialistic country.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:03 AM on January 17, 2004


"running amok"

Shouldn't one run while running amok? I think he was walking amok.
posted by Outlawyr at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2004 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it's appropriate to criticize the validity of this as art

Why should bad art be treated differently from good art?
posted by jpoulos at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2004


cameldrv - If he thought the artwork was atrocious then he shouldn't have acted like a complete asshole. It's now impossible to take his protest seriously since he's totally stepped outside the rules of civilized discourse.

I don't whip it out and pee on Bush every time I see him just because I think he's a bad person.
posted by bshort at 9:05 AM on January 17, 2004


A more clearer picture, the KKK standing under a hang man's tree with the exibit's name "Making Differences". This is not art, but making a statement under it's name.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:07 AM on January 17, 2004


Making a Difference
posted by thomcatspike at 9:10 AM on January 17, 2004


It's art even though it's political and makes a statement he disagrees with, and offended him, but should not have been touched. (and what bshort said)

They should fine him, or does he have diplomatic immunity?
posted by amberglow at 9:13 AM on January 17, 2004


amberglow: If the Ambassador doesn't have diplomatic immunity, I really can't think who would ... :)
posted by kaemaril at 9:18 AM on January 17, 2004


I don't whip it out and pee on Bush every time I see him just because I think he's a bad person.
If you did, it would be running amok; instead you maybe would shout or flash protest signs at him. Which could be argued as similar since you would be taking the spotlight off of one.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:19 AM on January 17, 2004


The guy was totally disgusted with some guy's art project glorifying the murder of 17 people.

Innocent people.

He could have organized a group of equally disgusted people to have the piece removed from the exhibit. Now he's just giving bad art a lot of publicity.
posted by hama7 at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2004


The guy was totally disgusted with some guy's art project glorifying the murder of 17 people.

How does it glorify, as opposed to, say, trivialize?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:51 AM on January 17, 2004


There is a fine line with this Swedish exhibit if you want to say "freedom of expression" which I'm not sure you can as Sweden is a socialistic country.

Thomcatspike- I'm having a hard time getting through your grammar/syntax, but are you alleging that there is no freedom of speech in socialist countries like Sweden?
posted by crazy finger at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2004


This is what the artwork really looks like. I dont think floating on a river of blood glorifies anything, its probably trying to show what a waste of human life the IP situation is.
posted by skallas at 9:59 AM on January 17, 2004


I don't accept the characterization of the piece as "glorifying the murder of 17 people" -- it's about the woman Hanadi Jaradat.

Who was Hanadi Jaradat? Jaradat was a 29 year old lawyer from Jenin. She had lost a lot to the Israelis and the intifada--eight years earlier, the distant cousin whom she was to marry and whom she loved was killed in an encounter with Israeli security forces before they could marry. Her cousin, Salah, and brother, Fadi were shot down in cold blood on the night of June 12 at the family home in front of her eyes and those of the cousin's pregnant wife and two year old son. Fadi, initially wounded, was taken by soldiers and shot again to make sure he was dead. When the family got the body back to bury it, Hanadi reported to Al-Arab Al-Yum that her brother had been shot in every part of his body. Her brother's wedding would have happened three days later, on June 16, to eighteen year old Abir. After Fadi died, Hanadi became the breadwinner for the family because her father was ill with cancer and could no longer work. The only thing that had improved his health was Fadi's upcoming wedding. With Fadi's death, her father was left a broken man.

She said: "If our nation cannot realize its dream and the goals of the victims, and live in freedom and dignity, then let the whole world be erased."

This article was originally published in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz Ticking Bomb

Many more innocent Palestinians have been killed than innocent Israelis...just to keep things in perspective.
posted by lathrop at 10:00 AM on January 17, 2004


regardless, the ambassador brought more attention to this art than it would have received without the token lamp chuck. Nice that he unplugged it first, too.
posted by Busithoth at 10:12 AM on January 17, 2004


Some different scenarios:

The Ambassador should have informed himself about the exhibition and declined the invitation if he found that offensive.

The Ambassador should have informed himself about the exhibition and accepted the invitation, but refused to be photographed by that particular exhibition. Followed up by a cultural press conference underlining differences of perception of an bloody act.

The Ambassador has made a fool of himself. He will most likely never be discharged for that motive but he has made a fool of himself in the diplomatic circles, groups that pride themselves for the elegant way they are known handle similar situations.
posted by ruelle at 10:22 AM on January 17, 2004


M-W Definition of Ambassador

a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment

To keep it short: one who represent the government. And his irrational and anger-driven behavior really represent actual Israeli government. But it is because of people like that ambassador that diplomacy fails because simply he doesn't even know the meaning of diplomacy : no diplomat with half a brain would have done that.
posted by elpapacito at 10:22 AM on January 17, 2004


Many more innocent Palestinians have been killed than innocent Israelis...just to keep things in perspective.

This is the exact mentality (my side sufferred more than yours, therefore you are more evil an your brutality excuses my brutality) that keeps the whole clusterfuck going.
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2004


Many more innocent Palestinians have been killed than innocent Israelis

It would be helpful if you'd provide a shred of evidence to back up such a ridiculous claim.

According to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism; "the majority of Palestinian deaths in the conflict are combatants, Israeli fatalities are 80 percent noncombatants".

Skewing the Death Tolls, A Summary of Findings, and the full report.
posted by hama7 at 10:28 AM on January 17, 2004


Many more innocent Palestinians have been killed than innocent Israelis...just to keep things in perspective. huh? She was not the "innocent" here so what perspective are you talking about.

crazy fingers, basically the Swedish governments will step into an owners' company and tells them how to run it, usually the first few years of operation. Knowing this, not sure how one could truly express themselves from a view that "you have full freedom".
posted by thomcatspike at 10:32 AM on January 17, 2004


I think that as long as we evaluate the "rationale" of his actions, and judge his behavior against the logical alternatives (organizing or lodging a protest, etc.), then we're never going to come up with a suitable response. After looking at the video, it seems clear to me that, as calm as he seemed on the outside, he was having a deeply emotional and personal response to the display. There are definitely times when people are literally overcome with emotion, and this definitely seems like one of those times. Sure, after the fact, the outcomes are decided back on a "rational" plane, but it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to talk about what else he might have done in the moment--he was either going to snap, or not, and he snapped.

That being said, it seems to me be deeply hypocritical of the artist to complain about the ambassador's reaction. To load up a public display with that amount of blatant emotional freight means that you are intentionally aggressively attacking each viewer on a visceral level. So, their emotions are your toys, but your crappy little styrofoam boat is sacrosanct? The level of visual and technical craftsmanship involved in the display is negligible--this is "art as provocation". That may be a totally legitimate pursuit, but to then get all pissy because you actually provoked someone seems naive and self-serving to me. Amateur.
posted by LairBob at 10:36 AM on January 17, 2004



It would be helpful if you'd provide a shred of evidence to back up such a ridiculous claim.

According to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism; "the majority of Palestinian deaths in the conflict are combatants, Israeli fatalities are 80 percent noncombatants".

Skewing the Death Tolls, A Summary of Findings, and the full report.


btselem
posted by heimchen at 10:47 AM on January 17, 2004


so what do you all think, is there such a thing as unacceptable art? and where is the line?
is it the art itself that can be unacceptable? or the text that goes with it? or is it the reaction of the audience that deems the work acceptable or not?
posted by bokononito at 10:48 AM on January 17, 2004


Given that the artist, Dror Feiler, is Israeli born but living in Sweden for quite some time, this is more a case of an Israeli official thinking he has the right to shut up a fellow Israeli. I strongly doubt that an Israeli Ambassador would have attempted such a stunt if the artist were non-Israeli. This kind of bold, rude statement goes over very well in Israeli, where it is called "dugri" meaning "direct" or "straight" talk. Outside of Israeli the term "rude asshole" is usually applied. As Brit columnist Stephen Brooks once wrote "It's not that the Israelis have bad manners. It's that they have absolutely no manners at all."

Were the artist Swedish, non-Israeli Jewish, or even Palestinian I doubt whether the good ambassador would have touched it or had anything to do with the exhibition. Like they say" Being Israeli means never having to say you are sorry."
posted by zaelic at 10:54 AM on January 17, 2004


Ah, neutral Sweden...art lovers. And recall that not long ago it came out in public that they had stolen zillions of money from Jewish vvictims of nazi, money deposited in their banks and have now at last been forced to repay it...art is art and business is business.

The Israeli rep was an ass. And I am glad he did it.
posted by Postroad at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2004


I suppose the ambassador felt it was his duty to point out such degenerate art . Perhaps he should launch a more ambitious effort to educate the public about this menace. But why limit such a campaign to visual art? There are other degenerate influences that we must confront as well.
posted by 2sheets at 11:15 AM on January 17, 2004


I have to agree with LairBob's analysis (and others' here): it was wrong for the Ambassador to lose his temper, but I have a hard time faulting him for it really.
posted by hattifattener at 11:40 AM on January 17, 2004


I think you're confusing Sweden and Switzerland, there, Postroad.
posted by kindall at 11:42 AM on January 17, 2004


thomcatspike:
There is a fine line with this Swedish exhibit if you want to say "freedom of expression" which I'm not sure you can as Sweden is a socialistic country.


I too pity the Swedes. They don't even have designated free speech zones from which they can voice their dismay with the government.
posted by crank at 11:46 AM on January 17, 2004


According to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism; "the majority of Palestinian deaths in the conflict are combatants, Israeli fatalities are 80 percent noncombatants".

Great statistics hama7.
To save anyone the trouble of looking up the Institute for Counter-Terrorism for themselves, here is a line from their website, which I hope will bring some perspective to the stats:
'Under the leadership of Shabtai Shavit, former head of Mossad and current chairman of the ICT board of directors...'
posted by biffa at 12:03 PM on January 17, 2004


The piece is of the suicide bomber's face floating in a pool of blood, everyone. How does this condone suicide bombings?
posted by interrobang at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2004


The art was provocative.
The ambassador was provoked.

Artists who broach controversial subjects can expect controversy to ensue, regarless of the merits or lack thereof, of either the art or the kerfuffle.

The museum should explain to the ambassador that he's not welcome in the future if he can't handle the controversial art that museums frequently exhibit, and it should be left at that.
posted by Blue Stone at 12:11 PM on January 17, 2004


If one of my amassadors behaved in a similar manner anywhere in the world, I would like him ordered back home immediately. When you are an ambassador, you will inevitably meet people whose opinions differ very much from your own and you are expected to deal with this in a professional way. If you behave like an angry kid you are unfit for diplomatic service.

thomcatspike: your comments about Sweden do not hit the target. They are more like comments about the Soviet Union. You may be relieved to know that the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore.

Yeah, I’m Swedish.
posted by Termite at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2004


so what do you all think, is there such a thing as unacceptable art? and where is the line?
is it the art itself that can be unacceptable? or the text that goes with it? or is it the reaction of the audience that deems the work acceptable or not?


"The Artist does not create for himself, he creates for the people, and it shall be seen that the people are called forth to judge his art."
-Adolf Hitler

Sorry if that brings out the "ha ha Godwin ROFLLMAO rox0rz!" crowd, but I've always remembered that quote and it seemed to fit well.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:47 PM on January 17, 2004


He's actually a CIA plant trying to make American diplomacy look good.
posted by Ptrin at 12:59 PM on January 17, 2004


Yes, I think people are missing a key point. Yes, it is visceral, and emotional, and if some person came to see the exhibit who was unaccustomed to this sort of art, or culture and freaked out it would be understandable. This, however is an ambassador for a country. A person whose job it is to bridge differences among people and cultures. In this career this sort of activity is totally unacceptable.

Also, as interrobang and skallas say, it really doesn't seem all that positive to me. Not berating her either, but powerfully sad. A call to the horrible situation and cost of lives to people outside the situation that may find it easier to ignore.

I think the real unspoken offense is that she, in this art, is treated as a human, also caught up in the same destructive struggle the Israelis are in, and not a mindless terrorist automaton.
posted by rhyax at 1:02 PM on January 17, 2004


Good call, rhyax.

I think it's a detriment to security for Israel when one of their ambassadors- a representative of their nation to the world- does something like this. The greatest stigma for Israel in the eyes of Europe is the concept that Sharon's government percieves everything in terms of "what must we remove that obstructs the will of the Israeli people."

Declaring your right to deface something because it offends you isn't exactly the best way for a representative of Israel to ease that type of stereotype, is it? I don't think Sweden today is more relaxed to the concept that, for example, Israel's "security wall" is necessary and rational when the image of the Israeli government right now is someone who becomes militant upon viewing an art project.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2004


A hero. That "art" is sick and offensive. Fine. Call it a "provoking work of art." It provoked the appropriate repsonse.
posted by jmccorm at 1:56 PM on January 17, 2004


That "art" is sick and offensive.

Guernica was probably sick and offensive to Franco.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:08 PM on January 17, 2004


PARALLEL: The American Ambassador in France goes to an exhibit called "Making a Difference." There, he finds Glamour Shot style photos of the 19 hijackers posted on top of little planes floating over a large pool of blood. The exhibit is called "Pure Heros." As the representative of our country, I would find no fault in his taking action.

But I suppose looking back at it more critically, I see some irony in this that should be apparent. For she is anything but Snow White, floating on a sea of blood. Seems to make an opposite statement about her.
posted by jmccorm at 2:08 PM on January 17, 2004


A hero. That "art" is sick and offensive. Fine. Call it a "provoking work of art." It provoked the appropriate repsonse.

Goddamn Buddha statues. Who's got a few mortar shells left?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:26 PM on January 17, 2004


Entartete Kunst
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:39 PM on January 17, 2004


what a philistine.
posted by titboy at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2004


Seems to me the message in the art media is "Palestine floats on a sea of blood."

Which, from my POV, is hardly anti-semetic.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:00 PM on January 17, 2004


"[...] some guy's art project [...]"

For the sake of accuracy, this is the art project of a man (Dror Feiler, Israeli) and a woman (Gunilla Sköld-Feiler, Swedish and obviously Dror's wife).

I'll leave out the debate of wether the art was offensive or not, I'll just note that the ambassadors actions in no way improved Israel-Sweden relations, thus he was not doing his job.

But hey, who cares - Sweden is just a small non-nuclear nation and the USA-Israel axis can do what they bloody well like to them, right?
posted by spazzm at 3:07 PM on January 17, 2004


Agreed, FFF. I get the impression the Ambassador really had no idea what the art was "about" - he just saw something involving a photograph of a Palestinian bomber and was blinded by his assumptions.

It's interesting the brain-explosion anything mentioning Europe - Israel relations provokes in some Metafilter members. Sweden gets confused with WWII-Switzerland. Sweden gets confused with the Soviet Union. Someone drags out France for good measure. Highly revealing...
posted by Jimbob at 3:14 PM on January 17, 2004


Zaelic:"This kind of bold, rude statement goes over very well in Israeli, where it is called "dugri" meaning "direct" or "straight" talk."

That might be the key to whole episode - the dear ambassador finds himself facing a career of polite hobnobbing with unimportant scandinavians. Solution? Cause a little ruckus, accuse host nation of being anti-semitic terrorist-huggers and hey presto - international attention, popularity back home (dugri, as you mentioned) and therefore a real possibility of a political career in Israel - away from the snow-covered wastes up north.
posted by spazzm at 3:21 PM on January 17, 2004


thomcatspike: would you please learn to communicate in english?
posted by delmoi at 5:04 PM on January 17, 2004


On a related note, here's MeFi's reaction to a man beheading a statue of Margaret Thatcher.
posted by turbodog at 5:35 PM on January 17, 2004


The art world has a long history of events like this. Some art is designed to cause a reaction, and sometimes the reaction goes overboard.

Of course it's pretty weird for an ambassador to take such action. The man should have controlled himself because he is representing his country. He is not fit for the job, because if he wanted to make a point the appropriate way, he would have lodged a formal complaint with the museum, or perhaps written about his position in the newspaper. Instead he has only made things worse.
posted by chaz at 6:32 PM on January 17, 2004


would you please learn to communicate in english?

He can. He chooses not to, for his own reasons.

All I have to say about the ambassador's Art! Terror! Attack! is that it's a shame that the killer monkeys on both sides of the guns where he comes from don't have the same aversion to standing in a lake of blood.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:39 PM on January 17, 2004


The art was provocative.
The ambassador was provoked.


Brother, that is beautiful.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:28 PM on January 17, 2004


jmccorm: As the representative of our country, I would find no fault in his taking action.

Then you're an idiot. As has been pointed out several times in this thread, the sole goal of an ambassador is to improve relations between his home country and his assigned country. If he fails to do that then he's not doing his job.

Or, to put it another way, when you wrestle with pigs you really just get covered in shit. Acting like a common hoodlumn and vandalizing (bad) artwork just makes you look the fool.
posted by bshort at 10:54 PM on January 17, 2004


Art is meant to provoke and express emotion. Why would it exist at all if all we were meant to see were "pretty pictures?" The art in question appears to have done its job as art vis a vis; if I were the creator of this piece, I wouldn't have seen the incident as "destruction," but rather a sign that I had done a good job, whether or not the art is interpreted as "good" or "bad". Me? I feel sadness.

Look at the woman in the picture in the art piece. She's... well, beautiful. She was a human being, with a mother and father, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters. Something, somewhere, provoked her to do the horrible act that she did. Can you only imagine the kind of circumstances that would actually provoke you, your brother, your mother, to do something like this? It's almost as if people the world over have forgotten that we are here but for a short time; dogma, creed, and even beliefs (none of which are based in actual reality, but the reality that we create, or others create for us) seem to overrule everything else.

I think that was what the artist was actually trying to show. This neverending strife that we somehow want, need, to be dictated from a higher power. But the power is in actually in ourselves....
posted by Wizzle at 12:32 AM on January 18, 2004


I'm 100% surprised that the MeFi spelling police hasn't gone and crucified FidelDonson for spelling Sweden "Sweeden."

Jävla skit!

That said, I echo the sentiment I've read here: totally innapropriate behavior for an ambassador.
posted by starscream at 1:00 AM on January 18, 2004


Really? I look at the woman in the picture and I see a mass murderer of the very worst sort. She killed 19 innocent people. People she didn't know, people who were going about their normal daily business, people who had jobs and kids and a future. A sea of blood, with her floating in it.

I think that was what the artist was actually trying to show. This neverending strife is bloodthirsty. It must be stopped at all costs.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:00 AM on January 18, 2004


sounds like behavior i expect from fascists...

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

the fact is BOTH SIDES HAVE SUFFERED HISTORICALLY. most recently it has been the palestinians. before it was the jews who became israelis; it's like when a sexually abused child grows up and becomes a child molesting sociopath as well. everybody wants to view this though as a conflict of race and religion but it's not. it's economical. it's about people being displaced by outsiders who have moved in without asking politely...kind of like what has gone on for thousands of years. i think we need an Oprah convoy led by Dr. Phil to sort through all this emotional mess that has been repressed on one side or the other and is manifested itself in violent acts.

here are some points describing fascist policy.

sigh...people are so intolerant and unaccustomed to taking a step back and trying to see a big picture. especially on the web...
posted by wantwit at 2:17 AM on January 18, 2004


DOH! Sweeden - Sweden. I should have known better. I'm 100% sorry.

I'm very pleased with this discussion though and will keep tabs on the discussion of this ambassador frenzy in the Scandinavian media. Maybe posting some links in here on the way. TY MF.
posted by FidelDonson at 3:32 AM on January 18, 2004


Some official Israeli reactions
posted by FidelDonson at 5:06 AM on January 18, 2004


The more I read about this installation, the more I find it interesting and worthy.

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.

- from the link FidelDonson posted above me
posted by ruelle at 6:21 AM on January 18, 2004


A quote from the text, which accompanied the artwork: "She secretly crossed into Israel, charged into a Haifa restaurant, shot a security guard, blew herself up and murdered 19 innocent civilians"

This text was central to the installation, but somehow I get the feeling the ambassador never bothered to read it. This work may have been inferior and in bad taste, but it can only be provoking to people who oppose reconciliation and peace, IMO.

BTW, since the work was created by an Israeli-born Jew, who by his own words "oppose suicide bombers", I think it's totally ridiculous of Ariel Sharon suggest this was a sign of growing anti-Semitism.

"There is a fine line with this Swedish exhibit if you want to say 'freedom of expression' which I'm not sure you can as Sweden is a socialistic country." -- thomcatspike

It's wrong to describe Sweden as "socialistic", IMO. For example, while you Americans still debate school vouchers, in 1992 a coalition government in Sweden (consisting of liberals, centrists and conservatives) created the worlds most wide-ranging voucher program, still in existence today. Sweden is also a monarchy. Would you characterize this as "socialistic"? And freedom of expression, as well as ownership, is protected in the Swedish constitution, and of course ultimately by the European Court of Human Rights.

"[...] the Swedish governments will step into an owners' company and tells them how to run it, usually the first few years of operation." -- thomcatspike

You are very badly informed. Were do you get your information from -- Fox News? As a Swede, and a former entrepreneur, I can inform you, this is simply not true.
posted by livingdots at 7:51 AM on January 18, 2004


It would be helpful if you'd provide a shred of evidence to back up such a ridiculous claim.

And it would be helpful if you didn't present a skewed survey with a dubious definition of 'combatant' as 'evidence', because it makes you look even more ridiculous than usual. (That link to spittle-flecked paranoid journalist-stalkers HonestReporting gives it away, too.)

I suppose you'll be saying that the bulldozer driver who killed Rachel Corrie was making a similar artistic protest, hama7?

Anyway, I think spazzm may be closest to the real truth: that this sad excuse for an diplomat was feeling the cold in Stockholm and decided to do a wreck-job on an artwork that doesn't actually 'glorify' terrorism, but, as ruelle suggested, points to how the darkest, bloodiest corners of what makes us human can be unlocked by circumstances.
posted by riviera at 7:53 AM on January 18, 2004


"A hero. That "art" is sick and offensive. Fine. Call it a "provoking work of art." It provoked the appropriate response." (jmccorm) - There seem to be two alignments in this discussion. Those who just blurt out such assertions, and those of the other camp who ask - "Ummm....this is offensive exactly how?" I'm in the second camp.

Really now. This artwork in question was more of a rorschach than anything else and I could ask the question - wouldn't most artworks which contained a picture of a Palestinian suicide bomber have been vilified by some in exactly the same manner? I think so. And so I agree with XQUZYPHYR on rhyax's deeply insightful point : "I think the real unspoken offense is that she, in this art, is treated as a human, also caught up in the same destructive struggle the Israelis are in, and not a mindless terrorist automaton." (rhyax)

I suppose that the artwork could have also have included pictures of Hanani Jaradat's Israeli victims, as well as her family and friends killed by Israeli forces. Yet that approach, although more judicious - yes, would have detracted a bit from the purity of the art. The image of Jaradat. A sea of blood. Yes, her life became a sea of blood.

One can imagine the scale which weighs Jaradat's personal tragedies on one side, and then the tragedies she inflicted on others on the other. But I reject that approach. There is no moral equivalence here - only a feedback of retaliatory killing and torturing of the innocent - on both sides of the IP conflict, by individuals rendered functionally insane from their personal suffering. Functionally insane : functional enough, and yet insane.

Of course I have to pose the question at this point : at what level, or degree of severity, does personal insanity negate one's moral culpability? But there is greater moral culpability on both sides, I feel, to be attributed to those who have not driven insane through personal tragedy and who might act to break the endless cycles of murder and retributory murder.
posted by troutfishing at 8:44 AM on January 18, 2004


livingdots just put a finger on what I suspected - many of those offended by Dror Feiler's art have not bothered to actually even pay attention to the artwork itself before flying into a righteous rage. Others, as some have suggested in this discussion, have feigned outrage as a convenient pretext and cover for a less emotionally driven agenda.
posted by troutfishing at 8:53 AM on January 18, 2004


The Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression in Sweden.

I don't think the ambassador bothered to think before he acted. Or read for that matter. Otherwise he would have known tha floating in a pool of blod isn't exactly glory.
posted by Stomne at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2004


I see a picture of a beautiful young woman in a white boat... She believes that she is innocent and only tries to do "good".

By exploding herself.

All she created was a pool of blood.

Hardly anti-semitic or anti-Israeli. Rather anti-fanatic and pro-peace.

Ariel Sharon thanked the ambassador for "his strength in dealing with increasing anti-Semitism, and told him that the entire government stands behind him,"

Anti-Semitic? The artist is a jew.
posted by hoskala at 10:24 AM on January 18, 2004


This couple (Dror and Gunilla Feiler) have collaborated on other art projects that have focused on the Israeli-Palestine chasm of understanding. Even the Blood Must Sleep, for example (more here; text explaining the video installation here).

Where was this work exhibited? Tel Aviv, 2000.

(also, by the way, there are several Israeli artists participating in the Making Differences project, with contributions such as Fragments of a journey in Palestine-Israel and Arnas Children. Full list of participants here - click the flag, top left, to view in English.)
posted by taz at 10:30 AM on January 18, 2004


Ariel Sharon thanked the ambassador

Well, that's a surprise. Of course, Sharon knows a thing or two about floating in a pool of blood himself.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2004


maybe it's all a big conspiracy: in israel, most people are somehow related; therefore the ambassador and the artist might be relatives, have common friends. So, now, by unplugging the cables, both benefit. The ambassador is a hero back home for acting on the feeling that today pervades many jews living in or visiting europe, namely: there is an atmosphere of hatred towards us from the European media and people alike; The artist on the other hand is a hero to the European press, and part of the artistic community, for the ambassador behaved like a bully and any art is in the art of interpretation after all. Voila!

Now let me tell you how JFK was killed...
posted by bokononito at 11:33 AM on January 18, 2004


And it would be helpful if you didn't present a skewed survey with a dubious definition of 'combatant' as 'evidence'

I have yet to see a single refutation of the numbers presented. Even if a significantly smaller number of Israeli non-combatants are targeted, the point still stands that the casualty count is terribly lopsided.

I suppose you'll be saying that the bulldozer driver who killed Rachel Corrie was making a similar artistic protest, hama7?

I suppose that this will be quite off topic, but a summation of my sentiments concerning Corrie can be found here.
posted by hama7 at 12:29 PM on January 18, 2004


The art was provocative.
The ambassador was provoked.

That was well said.

An interesting new tidbit about this is that in newer interviews the ambassador states that he knew about this particular exhibit and that his actions were deliberate, and worked out in advance. Changes the interpretations of his actions, doesn't it?

What bothers me is the ambassador's government applauding his actions. He was imposing his view on others, and demanding that they accommodate him -- in their country. This is extremely arrogant.
posted by shelleyp at 3:49 PM on January 18, 2004


Just for the record, I intended no offense with the "unimportant scaninavians" and other remarks above - I'm scandinavian myself, and quite like the "snow covered waste".
posted by spazzm at 4:06 PM on January 18, 2004


Ah yes, those freedom-hating Swedes with their one-of-the-highest-standards-of-living-in-the-world-Socialism.
posted by i_cola at 10:38 PM on January 18, 2004


Last night the museum director was pushed down a staircase by an unknown assailant. This reeks of Mossad :) I can only refer you to a danish article for this story.

Is this an appropriate reaction to the exhibition? In my opinion this attack is the direct consequence of the ambassadors actions and he should be held accountable at least on a moral level.
posted by FidelDonson at 1:25 AM on January 19, 2004


The artist, Dror Feiler, was apparently one of Israel's first conscientious objectors, in the early Seventies under Ariel Sharon's command (according to The Jerusalem Post).

This was obviously a carefully planned political campaign by Likud, not just a spontaneous act of vandalism by a riled up Israeli ambassador. Zvi Mazel told Haaretz this was a "planned protest" ahead of time. And he did it in front of cameras for maximum exposure, probably after he had been given the go-ahead from his government. It is unthinkable that an experienced diplomat would do something like this without proper backing in advance. Why would a man, who has lived and worked as an ambassador in Egypt (a country rife with anti-Semitism), blow a fuse about an ambiguous artwork made by a Jew in Sweden, and possibly risk his diplomatic career? And the Israeli government did back him up, almost immediately afterwards.

The Likud government has been facing mounting domestic and international criticism. Lately, even high-ranking IDF-officers have criticised Ariel Sharon's policies. It is clear that Ariel Sharon doesn't want EU involvement in the Israel-Palestinian conflict -- because unlike the US, the EU is truly neutral in this conflict -- that is why Likud are working hard to discredit Europe, make it look anti-Semitic. And now, after successfully labelling France as anti-Semitic, they are now trying their best to do the same with Sweden.
posted by livingdots at 4:32 AM on January 19, 2004


Ah yes, those freedom-hating Swedes with their one-of-the-highest-standards-of-living-in-the-world-Socialism.

Sweden: Poorer Than You Think - William L. Anderson

Study discovers Swedes are less well-off than the poorest Americans
"If Sweden were a U.S. state, it would be the poorest, measured by household gross income before taxes, Bergstrom and Gidehag said."

I've pointed it out before, but the Reuters article makes some factual errors regarding the American Black Middle-Class.
posted by hama7 at 7:19 AM on January 19, 2004


FidelDonsons link also reads that the Israel embassy has been asked to move out of the apartment building they currently reside in.
posted by dabitch at 7:50 AM on January 19, 2004


hama7 - Re : "Swedish family income is considerably less. In fact, the study concludes, average income in Sweden is less than average income for black Americans, which comprise the lowest-income socioeconomic group in this country."

Bill Gates and his fellow billionaires are figured into the US average income which then - Lo! - exceeds that of the Swedish average : lying through statistics 101.

This is more a statement of the fact that income distribution in the US has become extremely skewed than anything else. The "L" Curve illustrates my point quite graphically. Lop off the last 1% of the curv,e which culminates in Bill Gates' fortune, and suddenly Lo! - the US "average income" changes considerably !

Lying through statistics, indeed. Using the same method of deception, one could "prove" than many developing world inhabitants are relatively well off - despite the fact that they are actually starving.
posted by troutfishing at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2004


"The Cold War may wax and wane, China may move from being official enemy to
official chum, the armaments industry may succeed in defining the strangest
regimes as certified `moderates', but through it all the American right
maintains a permanent, visceral hostility to one small, durable country:
Sweden. Ever since President Dwight Eisenhower made a demagogic,
philistine attack on Swedish social democracy, contrasting its road to
serfdom with the American way and saying that its citizens had an addiction
to suicide and despair, Sweden has been a target of ignorant abuse from
conservatives. ...."


[Christopher Hitchens, "Hating Sweden" - The Nation, January 1989, reprinted in his collection, "For the Sake of Argument", Verso, 1993]

of course, all this was written before Hitchens discovered what a great guy Dick Cheney actually is and how Ariel Sharon's critics are just horrible, horrible anti-semites



oh, hamasheaven:
nice troll -- you're getting better and better

posted by matteo at 8:35 AM on January 19, 2004


Meanwhile, back to the post : livingdots' hypothesis is supported by the news, this morning, that the Israeli ambassador has been making statements, about this incident, which are quite unrepentant and combatitive.
posted by troutfishing at 8:36 AM on January 19, 2004


funny too, that the boat has frozen stuck in the red 'blood' water during the cold nights this weekend, art professor Ernst Billgren said about that: "The artwork has frozen. Isn't that symbolic for how the dialogue has become deadlocked between both individuals and countries?
posted by dabitch at 9:09 AM on January 19, 2004


Your faulting of the study's statistics is a bit off the mark trout, as the study (which was Swedish not American btw*) specifically states that it's based on the median (rather than the mean) family income. As such, it is not particularly sensitive to the vagaries of Bill Gates' fortune. The US has both greater wealth inequality and richer citizens on average than Sweden, a fact which speaks for itself (or so one hopes, as I would surely only get myself in trouble expounding on its meaning).

As for the Swedish=suicidal meme, I've heard it a number of times, but I have no idea where it came from. In fact, Sweden and the US have almost identical suicide rates.

* It's pretty funny to see matteo attack the American Right™ over this study, since I can only imagine the resulting furor if a US right-wing group actually did release a study that explicitly compared the wealth of African-Americans and Swedes. Of course, those Swedes are nice guys, if a little naive politically, so we'll give them a pass here.
posted by boaz at 10:06 AM on January 19, 2004


I get the art. I don't much care for it, but I don't much care for most current art.

But, this attack by the ambassador was obviously planned. It was staged so that he and the rest of the Likud could stand up, point to this piece of art and claim prevailing anti-semitism of the known universe. Frankly, I'm tired of people who use religion as an excuse for bad/immoral behavior and I'm tired of these bloody lunatics purporting to speak for the rest of the Semites.

As long as these loose cannons are applauded for acting like spoiled brats, people will point to them as justification for continued discrimination/fear/hatred of the race as a whole.

Were it my country, and I the undisputed monarch...I would ask the ambassador to leave, or ask for him to be withdrawn, and give Israel a chance to replace him with a diplomat.
posted by dejah420 at 7:06 PM on January 19, 2004


Boaz - Actually, you're right on that. I was a bit reactive there. Strangely, I've argued myself that the European welfare state systems are doomed - due to competition from "leaner" economies which are not carrying such a heavy tax load. One would expect that all of the reinvestment that countries such as Sweden do in their own population - via education, health care, child care, and so on - would result in increased prosperity. Apparently not. Yet Swedes were once more prosperous than Americans. Why? What drove this prior prosperity?

The median income index of national income is relatively uneffected by the "Bill Gates" factor - you're right. But comparisons of the median incomes of countries with rather different GINI index measurements can get a little weird. Think about it for a bit. If the income graph is strictly linear, then fine - the median is a good measure. But if not.......the median can be rather deceptive.

Hama7's link, from the Ludvig Von Mises Institute, is funny to me for the fact that it illustrates a bit of ideological intoxication on the part of the author who seems to be a bit drunk on the news about the comparison of US and Swedish median incomes.

"Over time, the cracks in these relatively wealthy nations are growing larger, and if the disease is not arrested, much of Europe will tumble off into real poverty in the not-so-distant future. Europeans--and, most likely, Americans--seem destined to learn the hard way that large, seemingly intractable welfare systems have their way of destroying the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs." - In fact, the US has it's own analog of the European welfare state - defense spending, and - further - American habits of personal debt are looking a bit excessive at the moment. This seems to be the major factor driving the decline of the US Dollar against the Euro.

"The premises of the welfare state are as follows: (1) free markets, if not regulated by the state, lead to continuing inequality, as wealth becomes increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, while more and more people become poorer....As Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard have pointed out, in a private-market society, individuals cannot gain wealth unless they produce goods that are demanded by large numbers of people."

Income inequality is rapidly growing in the US (as is poverty as well). Further, the Mises acolyte writing this seems to be unaware of one other classic route to wealth employed since time immemorial - by way of underhanded political machination.
______________________________________________

Anyway - The art, the art!

I'm with dejah420
posted by troutfishing at 9:04 PM on January 19, 2004


dejah420 for undisputed monarch!
posted by homunculus at 9:10 PM on January 19, 2004


I'll be honest hama7 - without clicking your links I know they're a crock. Everytime you try posting 3 links (it's always 3 - hmmmm) to back up a PoV they turn out to be utter rubbish. You might as well link to Time Cube.

I'm no socialist but I do believe in the right system for the right situation as opposed to blind faith in one way for all. It's called experience.
posted by i_cola at 10:03 PM on January 19, 2004


and found that "the median household income in Sweden at the end of the 1990s was the equivalent of $26,800, compared with a median of $39,400 for U.S.

I wonder what the results would be if factors like free university education and free healthcare would be taken into the equation.

Zvi Mazel told Haaretz this was a "planned protest" ahead of time.

If this turns out to be true, it is just outrageous. The israeli government has threatened to withdraw from a conference on preventing genocide to be held in Stockholm in just a few weeks if the artwork isn't taken away.

Why do I see conspiracy everywhere?
posted by hoskala at 5:07 AM on January 20, 2004


"The envoy told Haaretz that his protest was not spontaneous; he had planned the act after learning about the exhibit in the local press." -- haaretzdaily.com

He could only have read about it. No images had actually been published in the press before the opening.

But now, the ambassador apparently denies his actions was planned, probably after several political analysts in Sweden has speculated this was a carefully planned political campaign by Likud; designed to reduce Europe's influence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to deflect some attention away from the growing internal and external criticism of Ariel Sharon's policies. But the director of the museum is still convinced it was planned, as almost the first thing Zvi Mazel did was to demand the installation be removed, and then very deliberately vent straight to it to perform his deed.

I personally don't find the ambassador very credible, as I have seen the artwork in question and didn't find it particularly offensive (and certainly not glorifying suicide bombings). I don't believe for a moment that this was a spontaneous act vandalism in anger.
posted by livingdots at 7:36 AM on January 20, 2004


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