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Banksy Stirs Things Up Again In Bethlehem

Banksy

Rarely shying away from making timely political statements, elusive British artist Banksy has over the holidays revealed his new piece on the imposed divide between Palestinians and Israelis.

The artwork, titled “Scar of Bethlehem”portrays baby Jesus in his crib with Mary and Joseph looking on. But this is Banksy, so in the background something else is looming: In this case, it’s the concrete wall that forms the West Bank barrier. Where the North Star should be, there is a bullet hole, instead. 

The words "love" and "peace" are painted in graffiti on the barrier in both English and French. There are also three large, wrapped presents in the scene.

On Instagram, the artist described the work was a "modified Nativity". 

The work has appeared insideThe Walled-Off Hotel”, a guesthouse designed by Banksy himself, which actually overlooks the barrier in Bethlehem. The nine-room guesthouse, which boasts “the worst view of any hotel in the world,” was opened in 2017 and attracted some 50,000 visitors in the first year alone. 

The Israeli government began construction of the barrier--a mixture of concrete parts and other forms of inviting fencing--in 2002 during the Palestinian uprising, or intifada. Israel says the barrier is needed to prevent terror attacks. Palestinians say it the instrument of a land grab. The International Court of Justice has called it illegal.

However, despite the fact that Bethlehem is a key tourist attraction--especially in December, which brings in some two million visitors--the separation wall and security situation has a severely negative impact on the city’s economy, which has one of the highest rates of unemployment within the West Bank. 

Banksy has been an outspoken critic of the political situation in the West Bank. In 2005, for instance, the mysterious artist traveled to Palestine, where he painted nine images on the West Bank wall.

Those images included Girl and a Soldier, showing a young girl frisking the armed soldier, a mural of an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian having a pillow fight, and The Armored Dove, which depicts a bird fitted with a Kevlar vest and holding in its beak an olive branch.

The hotel’s manager, Wissam Salsaa, told AFP that Banksy’s new artwork was “his own contribution to Christmas”. 

“It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way ? to make people think more” of how Palestinians live in Bethlehem, the Biblical birthplace of Jesus”, Salsaa said.

And that’s not all Banksy has had in store for us this holiday season. A painting of a nativity scene known as the “Banksy Christmas card” is making its rounds on the internet again this week. 

The image features what appears to be Joseph and Mary blocked from reaching Bethlehem by the Israeli West Bank barrier.

The “Christmas card” has been around since at least 2005 but it appears to enjoy something of a viral resurgence every December; and this year is no exception. 

According to the media, the original postcard painting was purchased by singer Robbie Williams for around $44,000.

By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com 

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  • Johanan on January 01 2020 said:
    This Banksy Hotel is on the other side of the Hebron Road at Ida Street (Google map) behind the high walls from the Rachel's Tomb which was there for almost 4000 years. Merry Christmas. Another year is nothing after 4000 years but can be heaven and earth.

    Rachel (means Ewe) was one of the two wives of Jacob, the ancestor of Israel.. She gave birth to Joseph and then she died in child birth to her second child Benjamin. "So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb." (Genesis 35 written 3500 years ago). The pillar of the place was called Migdal Eder (the tower of the flock) . Later for intermittent 1000 years, the shepherds nearby raised the lambs for the purpose of temple sacrifices for their sin offering. Nearby there was this natural rock formed trough used to feed the animals called a manger, where the babe Jesus was with His creation. He would be the lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

    "And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” The angels said the same to the shepherds in the same field. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, ..... you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

    When Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means “son of my sorrow”). The baby’s father, however, called him Benjamin (which means “son of my right hand”).(Genesis 35:18)

    Jesus on the cross was the son of my sorrow to Mary, but the Abba Father now seated Him on His right hand, He is now Son of my right hand.

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