Swedish art show withdraws drawing deemed anti-Semitic

Wiesenthal Center led demands for cancellation of exhibit, which it said echoes Nazi ‘animalization’ of Jews

The controversial poster withdrawn from a Swedish art exhibition.
The controversial poster withdrawn from a Swedish art exhibition.

Organizers of a Christian art exhibit in Sweden have withdrawn a drawing that Jewish groups said was anti-Semitic.

The drawing by two Swedish pastors showed three rats — one of which carried a rifle — eating what appears to be a map of the Palestinian territories.

Bilda, the Christian study center that organized the exhibit, apologized for the “mistake” and said the intention of the drawing was to “describe how all sides in a conflict are losers.”

Bilda spokesman Magnus Stenberg said the image was withdrawn from the exhibit and from the group’s website once organizers realized it was being perceived as anti-Semitic.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center had led the protests over the exhibit. Dehumanization of Jews in the style of Nazi propaganda should not be tolerated in the year 2012, said a press release by the Center, which called for the cancellation of the entire Swedish Chistian Art exhibition. It said the drawing depicted Israel in a dehumanizing light.

The Center also urged authorities to investigate if government funds were being used to legitimize the exhibit’s anti-Jewish hatred. The exhibition, it said, is sponsored by the “educational association Bilda for church and society,” most of whose income comes from grants.

The exhibition features a poster which calls Israel “the hole[y] land,” the center noted. The poster features an image of rats, presumably Israelis, eating away at a cheese-colored map-like mass, presumably the territory of ‘Palestine,’ without realizing that they are about to get caught in a mousetrap. One of the rats has a gun slung over his shoulder.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, stated in the press release that “animalization of Jews … set the stage for the murder of 6 million Jews in the 1940s. Since then, Soviet and Arab and Muslim anti-Jewish propaganda used the very same method. Now it has surfaced in 2012 Sweden.”

The exhibition was reportedly inspired by the journey of two Swedish artists, Stefan Sjöblom and Larz Lindqvist, to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“We call on all Swedes, whatever their political views, to denounce this hate masquerading as art,” said Cooper, “and join in demanding an investigation as to whether government grants directly or indirectly are being used for this presentation.”

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