French auction house pulls portrait equating Barghouti, Mandela
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French auction house pulls portrait equating Barghouti, Mandela

Painting of jailed Fatah leader contains text saying South African icon ‘was also labeled a terrorist in the 1950s’

A Palestinian child stands in front of a mural of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem. (Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)
A Palestinian child stands in front of a mural of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem. (Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)

A French auction house canceled the sale of a painting that equates former South African President Nelson Mandela with a Palestinian militant serving multiple life sentences for murder.

The portrait of Marwan Barghouti, a senior PLO official whom an Israeli court in 2002 found guilty of terrorism and murder for planning bomb attacks on civilians, was pulled last week following complaints by Israel’s embassy in Paris, according to the French-language news site lphinfo.com.

The painting also contains a text saying that the late Mandela, who spent many years in jail in South Africa for his non-violent fight against apartheid, “was labeled a terrorist in 1950.”

The news site did not name the auction house that pulled the item but reported that the auction was organized by Reporters without Borders, an international nongovernmental organization.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela in 2009. (photo credit: AP/Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool)
Nelson Mandela (AP/Theana Calitz-Bilt, Pool)

Aliza Bin-Nun, who began serving as Israel’s ambassador to France last year, wrote in a letter to the auction house that “Barghouti is a cruel murderer whereas Mandela opposed violence.”

Last month, the medical group Doctors without Borders opened an exhibition at a locale owned by the City of Paris, angering French Jews because it contained posters that glorified Palestinians who killed Israelis. CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, protested against the opening of the exhibition, which it said was biased and risked encouraging violence against Jews.

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