Zvi Mazel (born 4 March 1939) is an Israeli diplomat. He was the Israeli ambassador to Sweden from 2002 to 2004, after serving as ambassador in Egypt from 1996 to 2001 and, later, Romania. He is now a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Education and work experience
After initial studies in Israel, Mazel attended Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (The Parisian Institute for Political Studies). There he met his wife, Michelle, a political scientist and writer. He graduated in 1963, later becoming a career diplomat making his first service in Antananarivo, Madagascar. He also served from 1980 in Cairo, Egypt, during the thaw period that ended with the 1982 Lebanon War. In 1989 he was posted as ambassdor to Rumania and witnessed the revolution which toppled Ceaucescu. In 1992 he was appoined Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry in charge of African affairs and was instrumental in reestablishing diplomatic relations between Israel and 19 African countries. In 1996 he returned to Egypt as an ambassador, and remained five years in that country. He also held the post as director of Eastern European division and head of the Egyptian and North African department at the Foreign Ministry back in Israel.
Mazel has written extensively on Israeli-Turkish and Israeli-Egyptian relations, commenting that Erdogan's attempts to reverse Atatürk's secular policies have put him and Turkey at odds with Israel and the Western world. He sees pragmatic elements in the leaders of post-revolution Egypt, but dismisses the Muslim Brotherhood's potential for moderation.
Stand on Sweden
While serving as an ambassador, Mazel became a controversial figure in Sweden. Once, in reaction to a call to highlight that products from Israeli settlements sometimes had been labeled to fit into the EU-Isarel tax-free trade agreement, Mazel stated that the Swedish Archbishop K. G. Hammar "probably is an anti-semite." He has also been quoted as saying that Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh's criticism of Israel's alleged human rights violations could not be tolerated. Mazel also called former foreign minister Sten Andersson and Sweden's UN ambassador Pierre Schori "professional anti-Israelis."
At the same time Mazel embraced personalities seen as controversial in Sweden as "Israel-friendly". Most nooted was when Mazel 2003 appeared on a well known picture with Mr. Helge Fossmo, at that time only known as leader of an ultra-conservative religious group, later imprisoned as the person behind the most spectacular murder case in Swedens modern history (Knutby murder).
In January 2004, he vandalized the art installation Snow White and The Madness of Truth by Israeli-Swedish artist Dror Feiler and his wife Gunilla Sköld Feiler. The installation took advantage of the reflecting pool at the courtyard of Historiska Museet, that was highlighted and filled with red liquid signifying blood. The work further consisted of plaques with poetry on the surrounding walls and music by J.S. Bach. Well-lit on the surface of a basin: a styrofoam boat, displaying a portrait of the Palestinian suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat on one side and the word "Snövit" ("Snow White" in Swedish) written on the backside. After pushing some lightstands into the pool, causing a short-circuit and disabling the light, ambassador Mazel told Feiler that: "This is not a work of art. This is an expression of hatred for the Israeli people. This has glorified suicide bombers". Further he said to the press that the piece constituted a "complete legitimization of genocide, the murder of innocent people, innocent civilians, under the guise of culture". Feiler rejected charges that their intention was to glorify suicide bombers and accused Mazel of "practicing censorship".
Mazel stated that "Sweden is among the most severely anti-Semitic places" with "daily agitations in the media to kill Jews." Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon later thanked Mazel "for his stand against the growing wave of anti-Semitism" in Sweden. Zvi Mazel retired from the foreign service in April 2004 at age 65.
In August 2009 and in response to the Swedish government's refusal to reprimand the tabloid Aftonbladet for publishing allegations that Israel harvested organs from killed Palestinians, Zvi Mazel made several statements about the press in Sweden. He said that that there is no freedom of press in Sweden (Reporters Without Borders, in its 2009 press freedom index rankings showed that Sweden shared the top position with four other countries.) Mazel also said that the Social Democrats control the news with about 80% of the newspapers are connected to the Social Democrat movement, including the "four national papers". The newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet commented that Mazel perhaps was alluding to the national papers Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet and Expressen, and noted that of these four, Aftonbladet was the only one with a possible Social Democrat connection, as the trade union has a 9% share in the newspaper. According to Helle Klein, Zvi Mazel's ideas about Sweden may be from people like Helge Fossmo and other Christian extremists.
- "Grapevine: It’s in the genes" Jerusalem Post
- "Porträttet: Zvi Mazel har sett värre saker" Dagens Nyheter
- About ... Zvi Mazel Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
- "Analysis: Israel, Egypt, Turkey - shifting sands" Jerusalem Post
- "Mazel:'Pragmatism prevails ahead of Egypt elections'" Jerusalem Post
- "Anti-Semitism, in Sweden? Depends who you're asking " Haaretz
- "Mazel till attack mot Andersson och Schori"Aftonbladet
- "Ambassadör förstörde konst" Dagens Nyheter
- "Sharon praises 'art vandal' envoy" BBC NEWS
- "Art-Loving Israelis Don't Condemn Envoy's Vandalism" Los Angeles Times
- AP: "Swedish museum to remove suicide bomber posters" Haaretz
- "Sharon backs envoy's art attack" CNN January 19, 2004
- "Israel Diplomat Defends Attack On Bomber Art In Stockholm" New York Times
- "Israelisk attack mot konstverk" Svenska Dagbladet
- "Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism in Sweden" Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
- "'There's no free press in Sweden'" Jerusalem Post
- "Sweden condemned in Israeli press" Sydsvenska Dagbladet
- Press Freedom Index 2009
- "Pastoren møtte omstridt ambassadør" Verdens Gang
- "Knutby- sekten hos ambassadör Mazel" Aftonbladet
- "Israels ambassadör tackar Knutby-pastorn" Aftonbladet
- How Egypt Molded Modern Radical Islam, Zvi Mazel