The Reconquest of Cool

Banksy Bombs

When street artist Banksy's pictures appeared on the West Bank "partition wall," they drew the world's attention to the barrier in ways that protest and op-ed pieces could not.

When street artist Banksy's pictures mysteriously appeared on the West Bank "partition wall" in 2005, they drew the world's attention to the barrier in ways that dozens of protests and op-ed pieces could not.

Proposed in 1992 by former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the concrete and razor-wire wall was originally planned to follow the 350-kilometer Green Line (the 1949 armistice line from the Arab-Israeli war). Currently, the barrier runs over 600 kilometers as it winds to encapsulate Israeli settlements in the West Bank. For the Israelis, the wall represents increased security from terrorist attacks, as well as a way to consolidate the legitimacy of settlements. For the Palestinians, the wall symbolizes apartheid and economic oppression, separating thousands of West Bank residents from their workplaces, their schools, and their former farmlands. To the rest of the world, the wall represents a geopolitical impasse in the heart of the Middle East.

Banksy returned to the West Bank in December 2007, leaving six new drawings on the wall near Bethlehem. In the same month, Dutch activist group Sendamessage invited people from around the world to leave their own mark: for a fee of €30, Sendamessage commissions locals to spray-paint requested messages on the wall, sending snapshots of the finished text via email.

This publicity comes at a critical time. The disastrous war in Lebanon left Israel in a fragile position, its myth of invincibility shattered and the credibility of its leaders deeply undermined. The seven-year silence between Israel and Palestine was finally broken by peace talks in Annapolis last year. And in January, President Bush made his strongest public statement yet pushing Israel to give up land for an independent Palestine.

Timing is key. The wall is only two years from completion. Already, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced that Israel's borders will be expanded and redrawn around the partition wall in 2010, jeopardizing what little hope remains for peace. Artists and activists around the world are putting a spotlight on the barrier to prevent this from taking place. Whether it be stencil drawings or a graffiti scrawl, their message is the same: "Tear this wall down!"

44 comments on the article “Banksy Bombs”

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BJGUTTMANN

50 years ago a solution was offered, and rejected by the Palestinians. So, what now?!! Maybe the English should come back?!!!! what now?

somebody

what hope? when countries that have been seen to be honest, like the UK can commit war crimes and come out unpunished by international law, the UN.
what hope? when countries like america can supply Israeli people with money to build on land that is not theirs, suppress a nation economically and politicly and kill innocent people without punishment. why do we still wonder why kids, in the UK in particular, don't believe in letting live. how much noise do we need to make to be heard?

Sheik Ahmed Yassin

The Palestinians aren't unanimously pleased with Banksy's pieces, especially where they are portrayed as rats and donkeys.

UNO

I'm an artist and i can honestly say that art will not do a damn thing in this situation :/
is their a solution to this problem? hell yeah, but it comes with people talikng to each other. look up PEACE GROUPS IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE. some army people on both sides have even started peace groups because they are sick of all the killing. You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Mahatma Gandhi

henry tobias

The wall is to stop Jews being killed by Palestinian terrorists, not to take land. Walls can be torn down, as was the Berlin Wall, dead people cannot be revived, at least not until the Messaih comes.

me.

Art can make a difference in this situation if it does what all great protest art does. It has to inspire and mobilize the people. Real justice doesn't come from Peace Groups. It comes from people finally getting angry and inspired enough to stand up for justice. To be clear, I'm not talking about violence and retaliatory vengeance. I'm talking about a coherent, powerful nonviolent movement that cannot be ignored by citizens half a world away. Think Vietnam, apartheid, civil rights, Gandhi, etc. Until the people can build a movement, peace will not come from topdown means. This is a postmodern society we live in, in which image is all important. And right now, the Palestinian movement is viewed as fractured, fanatical, violent, and weak. This is what needs to change. And powerful art can spark that change.

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