British street artist Banksy is no stranger to the Israel-Palestine conflict. And on Friday 3 March, he unveiled his latest project – a hotel just outside Bethlehem with a view of Israel’s infamous ‘apartheid‘ wall.
100 years on
Described by The Guardian as “a hotel, museum, protest and gallery all in one”, the project is reportedly part of a plan to promote discussion about Israeli occupation. It also acts as a reminder of Britain’s own involvement in the 1948 creation of the State of Israel. Banksy insists:
It’s exactly 100 years since Britain took control of Palestine and started rearranging the furniture – with chaotic results… I don’t know why, but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.
In 1917, British foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour wrote a letter to a leader of Britain’s Jewish community in which he affirmed that his government favoured the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine”. The rest is history.
Banksy’s hotel – in the style of a colonial gentlemen’s club – hammers home the point about Britain’s past interference in Palestine. And one exhibition even has a moving statue of Balfour signing his declaration.
The Walled Off Hotel
Banksy says his Walled Off Hotel – which is in an area under Israeli security control – has “the worst view of any hotel in the world”. This is because it’s only four metres away from the illegal apartheid wall that cuts through the occupied West Bank; and because the nine rooms and one suite all face the so-called “separation barrier”.
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The aim of the project is reportedly to attract tourism and create jobs in Bethlehem; all while fostering dialogue between young Israelis and the city’s Palestinian residents.
Welcome to Banksy's Walled Off Hotel in the West Bank, where every room features the world's worst view: pic.twitter.com/6l5Gucz1fZ
— Splinter (@splinter_news) March 6, 2017
Israeli Apartheid Week has now come to an end in the UK, having this year highlighted the 50-year anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. But by bringing greater attention to one of the biggest symbols of that occupation – the West Bank apartheid wall, Banksy has helped to ensure that the conversation will continue.
– Support the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
– Find out about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
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