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Israel Calls Off Einstein Show in China

July 31, 2002|From Associated Press

BEIJING — Israel has canceled an Albert Einstein exhibit in China after Chinese officials demanded the removal of references to his being Jewish and a supporter of creating a Jewish state, an Israeli spokesman said Tuesday.

The incident adds to diplomatic strains that date back two years, when Israel called off a deal to sell Beijing a sophisticated airborne radar system. China has also criticized recent Israeli attacks in Palestinian territories.

The Einstein exhibit was to open in Beijing in late September and travel to Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities, according to the Israeli Embassy in Beijing. It consists of 30 posters reproducing photos, letters and documents about the physicist's life and work.

"It was the Chinese Ministry of Culture's demand to omit or delete parts of the exhibition that deal with the Jewish origins and pro-Zionist attitude of Einstein and that he had been invited to be the president of Israel," said Amir Sagie, an embassy spokesman. "These three themes are very important to the biography of Einstein and can't be changed."

Zhang Ling, an official of the ministry's Foreign Cultural Exchange Bureau, said it had no immediate comment.

China has had diplomatic relations with Israel for a decade. Their growing business ties include Israeli weapons sales to Beijing, but China recently has been focused on building ties with Arab governments.

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said China was trying to "de-Judaize Einstein." It said Beijing took the step "so as not to spark Arab anger."

Chinese-Israeli relations plunged in 2000 when Israel, under U.S. pressure, canceled the sale to Beijing of a Phalcon radar system.

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