General Antisemitism

Art at Banksy’s Bethlehem Hotel gives lie to media claim he merely seeks ‘dialogue’

The British performance artist known as Banksy has pulled off quite a feat – managing to lure dozens of journalists to Bethlehem to cover his latest work of agitprop, a “hotel” next to Israel’s security barrier called “The Walled Off Hotel.

The planned opening of the nine-room guesthouse/exhibit, decorated with depictions of the conflict, was covered by The Guardian, Times of London, The Telegraph, The Independent, Financial TimesDaily Mail, Daily Mirror, The SunThe Herald, Irish TimesSky NewsChannel 4 News, ITV News and BBC.

The Guardian, March 3.

Though the Guardian and other British media outlets have reported that the hotel – “overlooking the worst view in the world” – will host Palestinian exhibitions designed by Banksy to “promote dialogue”, even a cursory review indicates that this is clearly untrue.  

Art adorning the walls of “The Walled Off Hotel” include a version of the old BBC Test Card F with the words “Free Palestine”, a photo set glorifying Palestinian “resistance”, statues choking on tear gas fumes and an oil painting depicting a bulldozer demolishing a village.  Conversely, there are no artistic displays in the hotel that give the Israeli perspective on the fence or provide background on the humanitarian impact of the deadly suicide bombers who used to cross over the previously porous boundary.

But, perhaps the most troubling piece of hotel art, which you can see on the official Facebook page of The Walled Off Hotel, is this painting of Jesus Christ with a (IDF) sniper’s red dot sight on his head.

This painting in Banksy’s hotel should be seen in the context of ongoing efforts by activists, PA government officials (and even some journalists) to cast Jesus as an early “Palestinian”.  

This narrative, notes CAMERA’s Tricia Miller, ignores the fact that Jesus was the son of a Jewish mother and celebrated Jewish festivals annually in Jerusalem and “in spite of the reality that the geographical designation of ‘Palestine’ did not exist during the lifetime of Jesus”.  However, there’s something much darker than mere biblical and historical revisionism.  The image would also likely evoke – for some Christians – the deicide charge (the antisemitic libel that Jews killed Jesus).  Miller characterised the toxic Palestinian narrative thusly: “Just as first century Jews persecuted Jesus, the Jewish State now persecutes Palestinians, the purported descendants of Jesus”.  As CAMERA’s Christian Media Analysis Dexter Van Zile argued, in the context of Christian-Jewish relations, visual language which plays upon the deicide charge (which has preceded and justified the killing of Jews for nearly two millennia) “is the equivalent of a noose hanging from a tree in the Old South”.

Let’s also recall that the Working Definition of Antisemitism, recently adopted by the British government, characterises the following as antisemitic:

Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

Whilst nobody familiar with Banksy would be surprised by his use of imagery associated with classic antisemitism, it’s troubling that journalists who pride themselves on critically (and morally) scrutinising every Israeli claim and statement didn’t challenge the pro-Palestinian artist when he floated the risible assertion that his latest project was designed merely to promote dialogue.  

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29 replies »

  1. Typo alert: you dropped the first “i” from “deicide” and turned it into the verb “decide.”
    The sick reality about the Palestinian appropriation of Jesus is that he would have been the first target of the BDS and “anti-normalization” crowd, not to speak of jihadist terrorists. Rather than being crucified, Jesus might have shared the same end as St. Denis who, miraculously, carried his severed head to his final resting place, now a well-known cathedral near Paris.

  2. Banksy, who has never shown himself in public or on camera, wants us to take his (or her) perspective of the very real Middle East. Naturally, the Western Media sees no problem with this.

    • Just tried to leave a message on their Facebook page. Not surprisingly, the page owners must review all comments before posting. Because when it comes to bashing Israel nonstop, they need a bubble that can’t be penetrated by Yids like us.

      • The left are the world’s biggest hypocrites, they are the first to scream they are being denied freedom of speech, yet are the first to deny others theirs.

        • Seeing as how you conflated your own ignorance with my thoughts, I would say that the Right Wing likes to hop on Left Wingers perspectives and change it for their own small minded purposes.

          Such a fun game, Shirlee. Thanks for playing!

  3. I’m still waiting for Banksy’s hilarious mural showing the funny side of people picking up Israeli body parts after a Palestinian attack. And although I thought about it, I didn’t bother writing a letter for publication to The Guardian about their report.

    • Why would you think some self-aggrandizing poser who makes reductive, ignorant comments about art and artists would be interested in doing actual research on Google or anywhere else?

  4. When is Banksy coming to paint one of his pictures in Sderot or any of the other Israeli cities threatened by missiles and terror tunnels on a daily basis? When is he coming to comfort the children who suffer nightmares and are traumatised by the fear that in their own backyard armed terrorists may just suddenly emerge?
    Banksy sadly just plays into the hands of those who hate. 1. There are borders and border walls everywhere. So why build your hotel with the rooms facing the border? (They had 3 other directions to choose from, for heaven’s sake!) 2. Any Israeli tourist venturing into Palestinian controlled areas risks being lynched.
    FYI: Interesting article. In fact it would seem that Banksy (so brave in his anti-Israel views that he hides under a pseudonym) doesn’t mean so well after all.

  5. Interesting that the ” adoption ” by the British gov of a joke like ” definition” is regarded as settling matters. It also has adopted the position that the Israeli colonies in the territories are illegal. I assume that is also now the position of UKMW

    • Stephen you are ‘assuming’ again and every time you do it you prove how accurate the following saying is, “When we believe in lies, we cannot see the truth, so we make thousands of assumptions and we take them as truth. One of the biggest assumptions we make is that the lies we believe are the truth!”.

      You make a lot of assumptions Stephen because you believe in lies and cannot, or will not, see the truth.

  6. “Whilst nobody familiar with Banksy would be surprised by his use of imagery associated with classic antisemitism …”

    Seriously? Banksy has a past record of using anti-Semitic imagery? That’s a serious charge, and one that you really need to back up.

    • It’s not as serious a charge as claiming that Israel is an Apartheid state, and that they built a wall to specifically harm Palestinians and keep them away from Israelis. That would be wrong on all accounts.

      Banksy has had a hardon for this wall since it was built. On the other hand, Banksy hasn’t said squat about Palestinian violence that led to the wall. Now why is that?

      Seeing as how Banksy is anonymous, and s/he does this for a reason, I consider all my questions about him/her to be rhetorical. Banksy makes money off of bullshit. Not a deep thinker. Andy Warhol had more balls.

      • Banksy is likely to have generated anti-Semitic imagery:

        “In 2005, Banksy is believed to have produced a Christmas card that recalls old Christian anti-Semitic imagery concerning Jews rejecting Jesus, with Israel now obstructing the movement of Mary and Joseph via the security fence. Anti-Semitic website “If Americans Knew” has widely used the image to suggest Israel imprisoned the notionally Christian town of Bethlehem.”

        This “hotel” is merely a rather obvious re-imaging of Banksy’s widely publicised “tourist” video (little more than risible Hamas propaganda), which peddled many egregious lies about Gaza. Is it any wonder that he is now peddling an analogue of the Jewish State being the killer of Christ’s children?