Europe

Marwan Barghouti
Painter compared Barghouti to Nelson Mandela in inscription that reads 'Mandela was also called a terrorist'

The Israeli Embassy in France has been successful in petitioning the removal of a painting of Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti from a Paris auction house, the Israeli news site Ynet News reported Monday.

The controversial painting depicted jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti as the Palestinian version of Nelson Mandela, and was due to be auctioned with funds raised going to support the Reporters Without Borders organization

The painter of the piece further compared Barghouti to Mandela in an inscription that reads "Nelson Mandela was also called a terrorist in the 1950s."

In a letter protesting the display of the painting, the Israeli Embassy denounced the comparison, stressing that Mandela opposed the use of violence while Barghouti is a convicted murderer and a terrorist, said Ynet.

Barghoutti, sentenced for life in prison for planning deadly suicide attacks and other operations, remains, despite his incarceration, a leading power in Fatah and is widely respected in the Palestinian public.

According to Ynet, upon receiving the Embassy's letter, the auction house agreed to remove the painting and emphasized that there was no intention to provoke conflict.

The removal of the painting is the second controversial artwork relating to the Israel-Palestinian conflict shown in Paris to make headlines in under a week. Last week Jewish communities in France protested a new photo exhibit by medical group Doctors Without Borders featuring pictures and text about the Israel-Palestinian conflict which they say glorifies Palestinian terrorism, and provides incomplete information about the situation.

Roger Cukierman, President of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), requested that the city of Paris deny the group use of municipal facilities to host the exhibition, writing in a statement that the exhibit "can only augment anti-Semitic violence and the terrorist threat."

The exhibition features information on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that it began as a result of Zionism's "goal of creating a Jewish state in Palestine".

As the Isareli daily Haaretz reported, while the word is today used in France to collectively describe the areas of the West Bank and Gaza, it is actually a reference to the British Mandate of Palestine.

President of Doctors Without Borders, Medo Terzian, told the AFP news agency that he "understands the controversial nature" of the exhibit but criticized accusations made by Cukierman calling them "unacceptable" "irresponsible" and "outside the norms of public discourse".

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