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.