I am not a Hasbaraite.
Hasbara means to explain in Hebrew.
I am not a peace activist.
I am an arts advocate.
I bring people and art together.
I aim to depoliticize conflict by humanizing those who are different from ourselves.
Banksy is masterful at brining people and art together.
I went to Bethlehem this past week to see the Banksy hotel museum. Its aim is to discuss the wall. There is a wall that separates the Palestinian territories from Israel proper located in their West Bank and our Judea and Samaria.
The installation was slick, sexy and a pop culture masterpiece. The space is whimsical and not to be taken too seriously. He even spray-painted over the brand name of the grand piano that sits in the hotel lobby.
The upstairs gallery has changing exhibitions featuring Arab Palestinian and Arab Israeli artists. This is not advertised, but I know the difference between an Arab Palestinian and an Arab Israeli.
An Arab can be a Palestinian Israeli, but an Arab cannot be an Israeli Palestinian. Banksy does not realize the difference and does not address this issue…
The permanent installation is a powerful exploit of the conflict. It walks the viewer
through the trajectory of the wall.
It is the most brilliant propaganda piece I have ever seen.
I was very uncomfortable, but that is part of what my line of work requires of me.
I deliberately go out of my way to make myself uncomfortable.
How else will I experience otherness and learn to be empathetic if I do not expose myself to the very things that disturb me?
I listened to audio clips, watched videos and saw artifacts from the First and Second Intifada. I saw statistics from Operation Protective Edge and of course there is Gaza.
I have walked through many exhibitions about the Shoah. Holocaust museums are abundant in the U.S., Canada and Europe. This was similar only it actually exists in the physical space of the Nakba, which is catastrophe in Arabic.
I took it all in. I was nervous, my stomach hurt. I was upset that yet another tool had been manufactured as a political weapon against the one and only Jewish state of Israel.
I was upset that if the entire Nakba were a lie it would not have survived this long.
I knew there was truth in it.
I was upset that Banksy keeps the conflict going.
I was upset that my Zionist friends in the diaspora keep the conflict going.
I was upset that Banksy put beautiful and soulful art with no agenda upstairs in the same place as this exhibition of doom and gloom.
Yet he did this methodically, strategically and without flaw in his execution.
Perhaps Shepherd Ferry would like to create a similar themed museum in Israel?
How does this help bring peace to the suffering people of the Palestinian territories? It doesn’t. It opens the wound and pours salt in it; then gasoline with a lighted match.
Thanks Banksy, thanks for doing this.
Thanks for making me feel like a piece of shit for the role my government has played in keeping this wall up, which separates our people.
Thanks for showing me that this wall is a promise to never have coexistence.
A thanks for showing me that Oslo was a failure.
Thanks for showing me that in 1967 we should have given residency to all Arabs and put them on a path towards citizenship. ( Of course you wouldn’t have this pretty museum then, eh?)
Thanks for showing me all the times Israel fucked up.
Thanks for showing me how much the Palestinians never did to fight the British Mandate in order to secure a state for themselves long before our return from our infamous 2,000 year exile.
So I really am a European colonialist, eh? Yes, my great grandparents were from France and Germany. Yes, I was born in the U.S. Yes, I understand that a person born in Bethlehem is stateless and I am not.
So where do we go from here Banksy? What have you left us with? What good is it to show us the wall?
Despite your efforts in illuminating this tragic plight; I for one would like to see the wall destroyed. I would like to see them given citizenship after all this time. I would like to see integration, not segregation. But you have now made that even harder. You have added to the noise and you have skillfully planted a seed in the heart of every human who walks through the Walled museum hotel.
The seed is not a seed of hope. It is a seed of despair.
Am I denying the artifacts you placed in the museum? No I am not. Am I in denial about the well-documented Five Broken Cameras? No I am not.
I want every Israeli to go see your masterpiece of despair. I want us to own every good deed that has gone undocumented, every error that has been meticulously documented and all the unsaid deeds that will never be mentioned on either side of the wall.
I have no problem with self-inventory, taking responsibility and being confrontational. I know the truth is ugly and it hurts, but guess what Banksy?
I am not of afraid of your museum. I am not afraid of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem. I am not afraid of facts, names and dates. I am a Jew. I get it already…
I accept all of it, every inch of your museum.
I will continue to return and subject myself to the discomfort and each time I will experience a new take-away. I will continue to listen to my Palestinian brothers and sisters. I will continue to seek out their artists and their beauty. I will continue to show them as human beings who live in this land.
I will continue to hold out my hand to them and open myself up to anything and everything that comes into my path as I live my life here in this land. I will continue to visit the other side of the wall and I will never stop being human.
The wall is in the psyche of every Israeli and every Palestinian. The wall was built to protect us from terrorism. The wall was built to keep them inside. The wall was built to ensure we would never cohabitate. Yet now, so many want this and the wall is still there, reminding us that it must come down.
You literally just made the wall stronger than it was before. Thanks Banksy.
Yes, it is art- and each individual must interpret it for himself and herself. Each person will be affected differently by this exhibition. I for one am thanking you for making me more determined than ever before.
You see, my people are not going anywhere. The Palestinians are not leaving. I will swallow it, I will be the bigger person and I will lead by example.
I will keep chiseling away at the wall within my own heart and maybe my fellow Israelis and Palestinians will choose to tear down the wall in their heart too.