Banksy Hotel Opens in Bethlehem, Eliciting Heated Reactions by Palestinians

(Photo: Walled Off Hotel, via Ma'an)

By Jaclynn Ashly and Reem Alqam – Bethlehem (Ma’an)

Israel’s infamous separation wall in the occupied West Bank, while cutting off Palestinians from their lands and religious sites, isolating communities, and eroding the livelihood of scores of Palestinians along its route, has become an unlikely breeding ground for tourism.

Adjacent to the graffiti-stained separation wall in the city of Bethlehem, which is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements, and next door to the Aida refugee camp, elusive UK artist Banksy now welcomes guests to his latest project: the Walled Off Hotel.

In a message written in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, a plaque posted at the entrance to the hotel-cum-art museum tells its guests not to “choose sides” in the conflict. In describing the separation barrier, deemed illegal by International Court of Justice, the statement says: “The wall is a lie. It sells the idea that there is a simple divide between the people here, but there isn’t.”

But according to Palestinian-American journalist and author Ramzy Baroud, Bethlehem’s isolation from Jerusalem through Israel’s separation wall and two massive illegal settlements — with a third on its way — is far from “a lie,” and has taken a tangible toll on the city’s economy, which once boasted a thriving tourism industry thanks to its many historical and religious sites.

“This tragic reality left Bethlehem, one of the most endeared Palestinian cities, struggling for survival, and reduced it in many instances to utilize its very subjugation as a method of generating income,” Baroud told Ma’an.

Baroud, meanwhile, commented that certain aspects of the hotel were deeply offensive to Palestinians. Referring to one painting hung in a $265-per-night suite that lightheartedly depicts an Israeli soldier having a pillow fight with a Palestinian protester, Baroud said that it was “deeply insulting” and “belittles the sacrifice that thousands of Palestinians have made throughout the years.”

– Read article in full: Banksy Hotel Opens in Bethlehem, Eliciting Heated Reactions by Palestinians.

2 Comments

  1. How cannot you read between the lines? Banks’s art is symbolic and subtle and uses irony to highlight a political statement.
    Really are you denouncing Banksy’s art as offensive? Oh com’on remove the simplistic mind of “literal” and study the subtle message that Banksy is trying to convey.
    How can you Ramey Baroud make such statements? “Deeply offensive to Palestinians” “deeply insulting” your statements are stubbing on the back of a Palestinian supporter, a well renowned artist. Your words are going to resonate in the Arab world, and will be a fire for the furnace to the already fragile Palestinian Solid. Mov. that many times sides with personages and not with the Palestinian struggle.

  2. the article ignores the number of suicide-bombings and other violent terrorist attacks that were common before the security barrier was constructed. as inconvenient and unsightly as it might be, the security of israel is paramount in our policy calculus, irrespective of the aforementioned. the icc also bans indoctrination of children becoming suicide-bombers, but you have neglected to mention that as well.

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