Ambassador to Sweden gets 'the shoe'

Israeli diplomat also pelted with school supplies by protesters while speaking at Stockholm University.

swedish ambassador 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
swedish ambassador 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
During a lecture at Stockholm University on Wednesday, Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan was hit by a protester's shoe while defending the IDF's actions in Gaza. Dagan had been asked by the university's Foreign Policy Association to speak to students on next's Tuesday's Israeli election, but was forced early on to switch to a defense of Operation Cast Lead. Twenty minutes into the lecture, a red shoe was hurled at Dagan, followed by cries of "murderer!" and "intifada!" Subsequently the ambassador was hit by a notepad and two books. The man and woman who threw the objects were detained for assault and creating a public disturbance. The ambassador returned to his lecture soon after the incident and was heckled by the audience during the remainder of his speech. Dagan released a statement through the Foreign Ministry, saying: "It won't stop me from appearing in public. My mission as an Israeli diplomat is to be out there and to explain our legitimate fight against terrorism. It's very important for the friends of Israel in Sweden to see us. [Me] staying in the embassy is exactly what our enemies in Sweden want." A video of the assault was posted on YouTube by the Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation - "a sworn enemy of the racist State of Israel," according to a description on its Web site. Also present at the lecture were members of the International Solidarity Movement, "a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles," again according to its Web site. It is unclear whether the object-throwers were members of either group. In recent weeks, the anti-Israel boycott movement in Sweden has grown in influence. Contributing to tensions, Veolia, a Swedish transportation company, recently lost its contract with the Stockholm Metro because of its involvement in the Jerusalem light rail project. The boycott has also targeted the Davis Cup tennis match between Israel and Sweden scheduled to take place in Malmö on March 6-8. Shoe-throwing as a method of protest was popularized by Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who threw a shoe at US president George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in December.