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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the dude

personally i love the idea, and have thought of doing stuff like this myself, but people as a whole have become lazy, so to say. everyone has become so inundated with false media, so called religious beliefs, and their free will to shop that people have stopped caring. the only ones who care, obviously use certain methods such as this to really get the point across that, yeah this is bullshit, we need to open our eyes and do something. i just pray that people get the message before its too late, if not already.

Jeremy

I think everyone here needs to open their perspectives a little. I was born Jewish and converted to Islam. Similarly I was raised radically Kahane Zionist and now fight for the Palestinian cause. In all that time Ive realized something. To oppose Israel is not antisemitic but undoubtedly Antisemitism can fuel such opposition. This antisemitism denies the Jews of Europe the right to have sought a home anywhere after the holocaust. They had that right. I do however recognize the devastating cost of that rights current realization. Jews worked with the western powers and the Ottoman Empire. They did not forge their state in cooperation with the people already here. Instead many took up that hatred or apathy towards the humanity of the Palestinians that had for so long gone hand in hand with European antismitism and they expelled hundreds of thousands of people. The Palestinians have the right to resistance and in that train of thought suicide bombing needs to be seen as a secular act, unforgivable when it targets innocents but fueled by sociopolitical desperation. Hatred exists on both sides and a solution will not be readily found until both sides give up that hatred. Israel who holds the balance of power must take up the duty of leading the issue away from hatred.

Anon.

Just one thing i would like to say, unrelated to the article: please people either use your proper name or one that is neutral, don't try to impersonate others in an attempt to validate your arguments.

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