October 4th, 2003 the female suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat rose from her chair at restaurant Maxim in Haifa in northern Israel. Seconds later, 21 people were dead and 51 injured. Of the terrorist, only the head remained.
Two months later, the mass murderer was lauded by the Swedish artist Dror Feiler, and the then-Israeli ambassador to Sweden became legendary.
HAIFA/JERUSALEM. Restaurant Maxim is rebuilt and the only reminder of the terrible suicide bombing in 2003 are three stones with the names of all the victims who perished inscribed. Of the 21 victims, 18 were Jews and 3 were Arabs. Four children were killed, one of which was only two months old. Two families, Almog and Zer-Aviv, were almost completely obliterated.
In January the following year, Israels ambassador to Sweden was invited to an art exhibition at the Swedish History Museum (Historiska Muséet). The exhibition was called Making Differences, and one of the pieces, Snowhite and the Madness of Truth, was an installation by the Israeli-Swedish Palestine-activist Dror Feiler.
Nearly ten years to the day after the scandal, Dispatch International meets Zvi Mazel in Jerusalem. He has retired from life as a diplomat, but writes articles on foreign politics for the Jerusalem Post and is a so-called fellow researcher at the think tank JCPA (Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs). He remembers exactly how he experienced that day at the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.
As soon as I walked through the door, two of my colleagues pulled me out to the courtyard. There I was met by a horrible sight. In a basin of red-colored water, a photo of the suicide bomber from Haifa, Hanadi Jaradat, was sailing. So she had made a difference!
First I froze. My wife and I were shocked. Why did we experience this in the wonderful country of Sweden? I thought that I just couldnt stay here and drink champagne together with people that laud mass murderers.
After a few moments Zvi Mazel had decided to act. He went back out to the courtyard and pulled the plug on the spotlights that illuminated the artwork. In addition, he threw one of them into the basin, which caused a short circuit. Thereby the scandal was a fact.
Swedish media outlets described it as Ambassador to Sweden destroyed artwork , and showed no understanding for Zvi Mazels reaction.
Besides the horrible installation, the exhibition also consisted of posters in the subway. One of them presented the suicide bomber with the words Making Differences. There was no doubt that her deed was being lauded. I got the museum to remove the posters, but the art itself was allowed to remain.
And among the Palestinians the female suicide bomber was openly praised. Her father refused to accept condolences and claimed to be proud of his daughters actions:
I accept only congratulations for what she did. Her deed was a gift to me, her homeland and the Palestinian people.
Indeed, Yassir Arafat condemned the bombing of restaurant Maxim, but the Israeli Prime Minister at the time, Ariel Sharon, held Arafat accountable. In October 2012, the Arab Lawyers Union gave their highest award to the terrorist Hanadi Jaradat and explained to the world that they were proud of what she did and called the suicide bombing a defense for the Palestinians and the Arab nation.
A time after the scandal Zvi Mazel retired and left Sweden.
Im sad to say it, but I was happy to leave Sweden. The atmosphere against Israel is so bad in the country, actually among the worst I have experienced. This Sweden, that was so wonderful for us when I was growing up. The friendship ties between our countries were strong, but everything changed with Olof Palme.
Footnote: Dispatch International will translate and publish Zvi Mazels articles from Jerusalem Post.