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Back in August of 2006 I wrote about an absurd plan to relocate the Israeli embassy in Stockholm temporarily to vacant office space in the Museum of National Antiquities. This plan became reality. But the Israelis are having trouble with the building they’re headed for on a more permanent basis, and so the embassy is still there, over three years down the line.

The Israelis have had one or two rockets too many fired at them from the Gaza strip, and so are doing their best to cut off supplies to the area. Pro-Palestinian groups have responded by organising aid flotillas. Recently Israeli forces attacked such a group of ships on international water outside Gaza, and somebody made the mistake of lowering young soldiers onto a boat full of angry Turkish activists. Chaos erupted: the panicked soldiers shot nine Turks dead and wounded many. This was a huge news story, particularly in Sweden as other boats in the flotilla were carrying a bunch of pro-Palestinian Swedish intellectuals and politicians who have excellent access to the mainstream media.

Now, the Gaza flotilla raid is linked back to the Museum of National Antiquities in at least two ways. In 2004, the Israeli ambassador vandalised an art installation in the museum because he interpreted it as pro-Palestinian and pro-suicide-bomber. And sure enough, one of the Swedes on a boat in the flotilla was Dror Feiler, saxophonist and co-creator of that art installation. The subsequent demonstrations around the embassy in Stockholm led to the erection of an aluminium riot fence around the area, manned by police. The fence and a few policemen were still in place last Tuesday when I visited the library of the Academy of Letters.

I am a friend of all peaceful and non-nationalistic Israelis. But I must admit that I look forward to the day when I no longer have to pass their embassy on my way to my country’s main archaeological museum and research library. It’s scary.

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Comments

  1. #1 Janne
    June 11, 2010

    Irrespective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or of the high profile of US foreign policy, or of French assertion of colonial-era prerogatives, or cartoons of prophets, I really, seriously think that embassies and consulates should simply not lie in city centers, anywhere.

    Even inoffensive embassies in friendly countries end up projecting “security” (latent violence) out into the surrounding street, and high-risk embassies basically kill their entire neighbourhood with blast walls, armed police and surveillance equipment. And due to diplomatic immunity nearby residents and businesses are legally helpless.

    Make it customary to put embassies all outside the city centers, into their own cordoned-off area suburban area. Everybody wins: lots more room for offices and other buildings without the ruinous land prices of inner-city locations; embassies will all benefit from each others security arrangements; and the host country can unify security and access with much lower personnel cost. As a bonus, the opportunity for country-themed restaurants and bars in the area has the potential of creating a true “world city” that could prove a draw for visitors with a hankering for varied cuisine and bars.

  2. #2 Kaleberg
    June 11, 2010

    I remember coming in to work one morning in Cambridge, near Boston, and the haberdashery and gift shop across the street had been bombed. Apparently, the owner was the Turkish consulate, sort of an honorary position, and the bombers were members of the big Aremenian community out in Belmont, one of the suburbs. There are always going to be targets. I shopped at the haberdashery now and then, then I’d go buy Greek pastries and Greek, not Turkish, coffee at the little pastry place down the block. There was no point in worrying about bombs, what with all the lousy drivers.

    I kind of like the sense of international intrigue. I grew up in New York City during the Cold War, and my friends and I would often walk down the block across the street from the Russian consulate and UN mission with its barbed wire and police installation. (The pretender to the Ottoman throne lived a few blocks north. He just died recently.) Now, the only place with open security like that in NYC is the Cuban mission.

    My father was always a more nervous type. When he was moved to an office upstairs of a Wells, Fargo payroll collection office, he was worried about robberies. The real target in the area turned out to be the two towers going up down the block, but he had died of other causes long before we learned that.

  3. #3 Pär
    June 16, 2010

    “somebody made the mistake of lowering young soldiers onto a boat full of angry Turkish activists”

    1. The ‘young soldiers’ in question comprise the elite special unit Shayetet 13. Hardly your average pimply recruits.
    2. The reason the turks were angry was probably that several of them had already been shot dead from a distance.

    Also, I don’t see the point in having an Israeli embassy i Stockholm, or anywhere, for that matter. They could easily be replaced by trashcans to which official complaints can be sent and subsequently ignored.

  4. #4 johannes
    June 23, 2010

    > 1. The ‘young soldiers’ in question comprise the elite special unit
    > Shayetet 13. Hardly your average pimply recruits.

    If you are dangling from a rope, and there is a hostile mob under you, you are in a desperate situation, however fit and well-trained you are

    > 2. The reason the turks were angry was probably that several of them
    > had already been shot dead from a distance.

    The casualties have been dissected by the Turkish authorities – all but one of the wounds are from 9 mm ammunition – a calibre associated with personal sidearms, but not with military rifles – and fired from close range; even the fiercely antizionist grauniad agrees on this: http://newstrust.net/stories/1999765/toolbar?ref=rss

  5. #5 Zoon
    July 19, 2010

    I am a friend of all peaceful and non-nationalistic Israelis.

    Of course. But are you also a friend to all non-nationalistic Swedes? Americans? Brits? Germans? Swiss? Russians?

    Most any nation is by definition “nationalistic.” As someone once quipped, all nations have armies, and so the only real choice in such matters are–at the core–whether the army on your soil is yours or someone elses.

    The way the above was phrased once again makes for an interesting observation. No nation on earth besides Israel is blasted so heavily for being “nationalistic”, and yet the irony is that today no nation on earth has been under constant attack for its very existence as Israel.

    Fascinating.