Statement by FM Silvan Shalom at Cabinet Meeting on the incident in Sweden

Jerusalem, January 18, 2004

Freedom of expression does not give anyone the right to justify attacks on Israeli citizens. It is unacceptable that an exhibition concerned with the prevention of genocide would include an item that expresses identification with a woman who was responsible for the murder of 21 Israelis. There is something else here, something dangerous.

To my regret, this exhibit reflects an increasing tendency in Europe to identify with terror and to justify its use against Israelis, while at the same time exhibiting indifference and insensitivity to the suffering of Israelis in general and the victims of terrorism in particular. In many places in Europe, the tables have been turned and the killer is perceived as the victim, while Israel is always the guilty party.

In the face of this ugly surge of public and media sentiment, which contrasts with the improved relations which are being cultivated with most of the governments of Europe, our representatives and members of Jewish communities are standing firm every day.

I know that there are those who will say that the actions of the ambassador were inappropriate and that there are other ways to protest if something is not to his liking. But I say – we do protest, and we will bring up the issues, and we are issuing a warning to our interlocutors in Europe, in governments, in academia, in salons and in the media. In my view, Ambassador Mazel’s actions should be taken as a cry of protest from all of us. If in this way the ambassador has called attention to the double standard existing vis-a-vis Israel and the apathetic attitude towards the suffering that Palestinian terror has brought to Israeli civilians, then it is a good thing.

Just as Israel would not have sponsored any act, artistic or otherwise, that implied justification or understanding towards the murderer of the Swedish foreign minister, in the same way we would expect Sweden, and every other decent state, not to sponsor "art" that excuses the murder of Israelis. The exhibit constitutes a violation of the understanding with the Swedish Government, according to which the Conference on Preventing Genocide, whose sponsors commissioned the exhibition, would not touch on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This is despite the attempts of certain elements to include the subject in the conference.

The Swedish ambassador was summoned to explain how it happened that this understanding was violated by the Swedish organizers and how the latter justified their criminal lack of sensitivity towards a friendly country such as Israel.

All of us must be on guard against a climate in which the lives of Israelis and Jews are held to be cheaper than the lives of other people.    
 Statement by FM Silvan Shalom at Cabinet Meeting on the incident in Sweden-Jan 18- 2004
 Statement by FM Silvan Shalom at Cabinet Meeting on the incident in Sweden-Jan 18- 2004
Cabinet Communique – Jan 18, 2004
 Statement by FM Silvan Shalom at Cabinet Meeting on the incident in Sweden-Jan 18- 2004
Ministry of Foreign Affairs summons Swedish Ambassador in Israel – Jan 19, 2004