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”

Displaying 31 - 40 of 44

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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.


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.

Neil Kirk

We have a different war in the United States. Doctors focus on drugs to keep the sick coming back. No effort to cure diseases, but only to reat diseases. As a lifelong diabetic, I was scammed by the doctors and drug companies. I learned by accessing original diabetic research that insulin restores, bones, kidneys, thymus, the brain and sexual function. If diabetic researchers know this to be true, why don't the doctors inform diabetics that the only known effective treatment of diabetes is insulin? Scammed in Iowa
20 years after the fact, I started using insulin with 12 injections per day and returned my body to 100 percent normal health, and my bald head disappeared, had to get larger shoes and wonder if we will end up with a new baby thanks to the discovery in insulin by Canadians in 1921.

A Jew

Yeah. Right. Tear this wall down. Let Hamas homicide bombers come to Israeli towns to blow kids in discoteques and pizza shops. What a pile of crap. Just say what you think you hate us and want to kill us, and nothing is new under the sun for 2000 years. Screw you, Bunksy. God help we'll meet sometime.

John Dirlik

Forget what happened 50 years ago. In 2002, the entire arab world offered Israel full peace in return for full withdrawal to the '67 borders, as required by countless UN resolutions. Israel rejected the offer, and is instead continuing colonizing Palestinian land effectively aborting the birth of a viable Palestinian state. Israel could have peace today. It chooses colonization. It will never have both.

Zion UK

Mo is theft not a thought there! Thanks Zionism for providing a home for the Arab Jews persecuted in the name of Islam.


Mrs. Jenny Uechi and Adbusters: I really think that you are doing a very important and consistent job with your protests and activities against Globalization. I really do support this way of thinking and acting, and I wish that this world will become better and less corporation dominated as it is today. But when it comes to politics, especially in the delicate situation in the Middle East I think you should rather stay out of involvement. Your whole perception on this case isn't objective, and is pretty shallow, to be honest. Your opinions in general seem to be biased and lack of basic honesty and familiarity when it comes to Israel and it's tough situation. When you deal with politics which isn't got anything to do with your original goals Antiglobalization, environment etc., I think that you miss the point, and damaging your integrity. An Israeli Citizen.


First go youtube this: Combatants for Peace Israel/Palestine. Well ME, I feel what u are saying about art, but at the same time can you name me a peace of protest art that has changed the course of history? Anywho I dont have time to talk to you about some of the other stuff you talked about but just to sum up gandhi dont llose your faith in humanity, becouse its not all bad : ill talk to you about some of the other stuff you said in 2 to 3 days

Luiz Felipe

Yeah, let's start building walls around the world to avoid seeing what we don't wanna see. USA is already doing this with Mexico.


Interesting how you describe it as a concrete and razor-wire wall In fact, 95% of it is fence which is easily moveable. And subject to be changed based on negotiations. But who needs facts eh?


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