Israeli artist Dror Feiler will return to Israel this Sunday with Swedish Green Party member Mehmet Kaplan, in order to submit a complaint and a class action for abduction, illegal arrest, physical and emotional abuse and armed theft.
Feiler, who has lived for many years in Sweden, was among the Swedish delegation on the ship that left Greece for Gaza last May, intending to break Israel's siege on the Gaza Strip. Soldiers in the Navy's Shayetet 13 took over the three vessels that took part in the flotilla.
Among the personal items confiscated from Feiler, he says, were a saxophone and video cameras used to document a display he created on the decks of the ship from raw materials and foodstuffs, which appear on the list of items Israel does not allow into the Strip.
"The display's materials, purchased in Athens, included spices such as cumin, jam, and all sorts of things that for some absurd reason were on the IDF list," Feiler says. "I filmed the display with three cameras and the material was to be used in a performance work in Sweden. Two of the cameras were confiscated by the army and I hope I can get them back so I can continue my work."
The flotilla vessel from Greece (Photo: AP)
According to Feiler, even if he doesn't hear of the reason for the confiscation of his belongings, he can understand why telephones and cameras were taken. However, he doesn't understand why his saxophone was taken – and he's coming to Israel determined to get it back.
"Why does Israel need my saxophone?" he wonders. "I really want it back. A saxophone is not a weapon, and I find it hard to understand how someone could think to confiscate a musical instrument."
Feiler recalls the well-known Swedish author Henning Mankell who was on the deck of the ship. Among the confiscated items was Mankell's manuscript for a TV series on his father-in-law, the famous director Ingmar Bergman.
"What does Israel gain by holding this manuscript?" Feiler asks. "Why wasn't it returned? It's hard to avoid the thought that the Israeli government thinks it can do whatever it wants and the world will accept it quietly. In Sweden they don't understand this logic; it's the behavior of animals and someone will have to pay."
'I'm not against Israel'
Feiler is aware that the announcement of his arrival is liable to prevent his entry into Israel, but he hopes this won't happen.
"Preventing my entry wouldn't be logical, but I am aware that it's hard to count on the logic of Israeli authorities, so there is certainly a fear that they won't let me enter," he says. "It would be strange. After all, I was born in Israel, my mother lives in Israel and I have friends and family there. It's my right to enter and explain to anyone who wants to hear what the aim of the flotilla was and why I work overtime against the policies of the Israeli government."
"I emphasize that my activities are not against Israel or its residents," he continues. "On the contrary, they stem from love and the desire to help and find a solution. I want Israel to continue to exist, and in my opinion the biggest threats to its existence are not Iran, Hezbollah or the Palestinians, but the Israeli government whose policies are leading to destruction. If the policies don’t change, the future of Israel will be like that of the Crusader kingdoms that disappeared."
If he succeeds in regaining his saxophone, Feiler plans to finish off his visit with a festive concert, a series of events held by Jenin's Freedom Theater as part of the campaign to break the Gaza siege.
"I very much want to visit the theater in Jenin," says Feiler, who is listed as a member of the management and is one of the theater's founders. "I feel responsibility towards this institution, which brings cultural activities to the (refugee) camp for the sake of peace and understanding. Art is a bridge between cultures and people."
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