Friday 24 January 2020

Banksy highlights conflict with his 'Scar of Bethlehem' nativity

The Banksy nativity on show at the hotel he founded. Photo: Banksy/PA Wire
The Banksy nativity on show at the hotel he founded. Photo: Banksy/PA Wire

Stephen Farrell

Street artist Banksy has brought a sombre Christmas spirit to his hotel in Bethlehem, with a nativity scene evoking the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The "Scar of Bethlehem" display features a miniature Jesus, Mary and Joseph under Israel's concrete West Bank barrier. The wall is punctured by bullet holes, the largest of which resembles a star over the manger.

It is located in The Walled Off Hotel, next to the real barrier, which the secretive Banksy opened in 2017.

"Christmas (is) known (for) the Star of Bethlehem, that led people to the birthplace of Jesus," said manager Wisam Salsa. "You see there is a scar, there is a hole on the wall that marks the wall and the life in Bethlehem how it is today."

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Israel says the barrier that cuts through the West Bank is a bulwark against suicide bombers. Palestinians see it as a symbol of oppression in Israeli-occupied land they want for a state.

Arnaud Lucien, a tourist from France, saw hope in the art. "It's a scene, a biblical scene which is turned political," he said.

"And the message is very interesting because the message of peace is done for Palestinians and Israelis. I think it's a very nice piece of art."

In Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus, pilgrims and tourists from all over the world are flocking to Manger Square for Christmas.

Many posed for photos by a crib and Christmas tree in front of the Church of the Nativity, eating candy floss and buying red and white hats from a man dressed as Santa.

Irish Independent

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