Israeli Embassy at Museum?
For reasons of practical politics, few people would feel entirely comfortable if the embassy of Israel became their next-door neighbour. In early 2008, the country's Stockholm embassy is moving to premises in the Diplomats' Quarter on the eastern outskirts of the city. But until that location is prepared for its new use, the Israeli legation needs temporary housing. And, reports Dagens Nyheter, one suggestion that is being seriously considered is a place where I've spent much of my adult life: the Museum of National Antiquities! The former office space of the museum's library and archives is available to let since the opening of the "Information Square" in the Eastern Stable.
This is a bizarre idea for at least two reasons. The obvious one is that the country's greatest collection of archaeological finds and Medieval church art is not well equipped to stand a terrorist bombing.
But there's another more amusing reason. During Kristian Berg's tenure as director, the museum put on a lot of exhibitions of contemporary art that many visitors felt had an at best tenuous relationship to the distant past. In January 2004, one of these works of art, an installation in the museum's atrium that commented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was vandalised by the Israeli ambassador, a very senior diplomat named Zvi Mazel who has since retired. Few believed him when he said he did this at the spur of the moment: instead it was seen as a piece of political communication. The incident took place only weeks before a conference on genocide in Stockholm, hosted by the prime minister Göran Persson. This was a high-profile project seen as part of attempts by Persson to increase his international stature. Many thus believe that the prime minister's ire was an important reason for Kristian Berg's sacking in 2005.
So, is the Israeli embassy returning to its old haunts? If terrorists don't blow the place sky high, then I suppose we still have to be prepared for acts of vandalism by the embassy staff themselves.
[More blog entries about israel, embassy, art, archaeology, Sweden; Israel, ambassad, konst, arkeologi, Stockholm.]