Palestinians Find Reason To Be Upset Over Banksy Hotel

Remember Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel in Behtlehem? Despite the fact it’s opening was made to coincide with the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration (to commemorate it as a mistake) and it seems highly critical of Israel and our security fence designed to keep out terrorists, many palestinians are not happy with it.

Some because it is supposed to promote dialogue.

One visitor to the hotel, a local Palestinian student who preferred not to be named, rapidly shifted from excitement to frustration after being informed that the project was aimed at creating dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We can have dialogue once Palestinians have equal rights,” he said. “If Israelis really want to understand Palestinian suffering, they should fight for the wall’s destruction and not stay in a hotel right next to it.”

Buttu noted the futility of the initiative, saying that “we can’t just pretend that it’s easy for Palestinians and Israelis to come together, hold hands, and sing songs.”

Others because they feel it belittles their martyrs.

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.”

And others yet because it…I dunno. Can you make sense of this complaint?!

“What Bethlehem truly needed was breaking this sad paradigm, not cementing it,” Baroud said, echoing local concerns that the livelihoods generated around the wall has served to further entrench the Israeli occupation in the West Bank by basing a local economy on its most visual and destructive feature.

Buttu said that the most worrying aspect of what she referred to as “oppression tourism” was the parts of the wall which had not been decorated with graffiti and murals.

“The vast majority of Israel’s wall is completely ignored by tourists. And these parts of the wall are actively scooping out large areas of Palestinian land.”

Tourists are typically attracted to the “visual elements” of the cement wall, she said, and often disregard parts of the wall with barbed wire and electric fences, underscoring that these areas tend to be the most devastated as locals are dependent on farming and have no other alternative livelihood.

According to Buttu, “Many people really wanted visitors to see the wall for its ugly reality, and not use art and graffiti to mask or erase the reality Palestinians were living.”

This next complaint, however, I can understand:

Hassan told Ma’an that Palestinians had become tired of social and political projects originating from the international community. “We need better hospitals and schools. We need businesses that help us define and change our own society. We should create spaces where young Palestinians can develop their own conceptions of art, instead of just catering to foreigners who want to draw on the wall and snap pictures of Banksy paintings.”

And the reason they don’t have better hospitals and schools? In the PA controlled areas primarily because of corruption (although the “martyr’s fund” does not help either). In Hamas-controlled Gaza, because they use the money for terrorism, mainly terror tunnels and producing rockets. So if Banksy and others truly cared about the palestinians, they would seek to end PA corruption and discourage the palestinians from terrorism.

Either way, I suspect many palestinians would still be complaining – with anything short of Israel’s complete destruction.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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