The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, January 22, 2004

Swedes, facing underwhelming odds, capitulate on Israeli vandalism

Sweden has taken a dive over the hooligan diplomat Zvi Mazel (whose activities, and the immediate response to them, I discussed on January 19).

An AP piece (January 21) says that
Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds called her Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom to express her regret over "the situation that has been created."

Israel vandalises, Sweden apologises! The old Italian two-handed salute.

Why? The ostensible reason is the Israeli concession that they will not, after all, carry out their threat to boycott an upcoming conference on genocide to be hosted by the Swedes.

Just to minimise the reduction in Swedish humiliation this concession might cause, instead of the Israeli President, Moshe Katzav, the Jewish State would be represented at the conference by
diplomat Nimrod Barkan
- who, to be fair, does appear to be a real person.

No sign of any form of apology for the conduct of Mazel. Sweden accepts by this silence that his conduct does not call for one [1].

Moreover. another AP piece says that

The man in charge of the exhibition at the Museum of National Antiquities said he will take down posters showing a Palestinian suicide bomber that were posted in 26 subway stations throughout Stockholm to advertise the exhibit.

"This is a personal decision where I as an artistic leader take full responsibility of removing and replacing the posters," Thomas Nordanstad said.


So, why the dive? The deliberately devalued participation of Israel in a two day gabfest is not a sufficient consideration. So there must have been something else.

Were the Swedes leaned on by the US? And with what leverage? Did they consult with fellow EU members, and with what result? How was the matter handled within the Swedish government - in particular, what role did Prime Minister Göran Persson play?

To what extent did the GOI campaign (gladly, and non-conspiratorially, joined in by others) to characterise the European Union as (in some way, the more undefined the better, to suit the propaganda purpose) anti-semitic play a part in the decision to roll over?

And where is the journalistic effort to track down the facts of the case?

(I can't read Swedish, so am critically handicapped to know what is the Swedish media response has been.)

Of course, diplomacy being the profession that it is, Mazel will have set a precedent for actions which may be undertaking with impunity by an Ambassador - unless the diplomatic community comes together to condemn him and his government for their actions in the case.

On the Israeli side, the burning question is: is Mazel going to get his medal, as suggested by Likud Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi? Perhaps to top off Mazel's coup, they might like to invite Prime Minister Persson to present it...

  1. How, I wonder, is morale amongst the Swedish foreign service right now? How many would concur with the then (is he still?) French Ambassador to the Court of St James, Daniel Bernard, who supposedly referred to
    that shitty little country Israel
    I wonder?


I note that, despite the salience of Israel in US foreign policy, no hacks were curious enough to to ask Adam Ereli about the Mazel affair - and possible US involvement therein - at the January 21 briefing at State.

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