Scar of Bethlehem designed to make people think about how Palestinians live in divided city

Banksy’s latest piece – the artist’s take on a nativity scene – has been unveiled at a hotel in Bethlehem.

The Scar of Bethlehem features a nativity scene with Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, but instead of a star hanging over the crib there is what appears to be a large bullet hole piercing an imposing grey wall.

The piece has appeared in the Walled Off Hotel, which Banksy helped set up and overlooks the border wall in the divided city. Opened two years ago, the hotel is billed as having “the worst view of any hotel in the world” and is filled with original Banksy artwork.

“Love” and “peace” are respectively graffiti-tagged in English and French on the installation’s concrete blocks, while three large wrapped presents are at the forefront of the scene.

“It is a nativity,” the hotel’s manager, Wissam Salsaa, said after the piece was installed. “Banksy has his own contribution to Christmas.”

“It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way – to make people think more” of how Palestinians live in Bethlehem.

The highlight of the hotel is room No 3, known as “Banksy’s Room”, where guests sleep in a king-size bed underneath a Banksy artwork showing a Palestinian and an Israeli having a pillow fight.

Israel began building the separation barrier – in parts concrete, with other stretches consisting of fencing – in 2002 during the Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

Built mostly inside the West Bank, Israel says the wall is necessary to prevent attacks, but Palestinians say it separates them from Jerusalem.

Banksy is known for making political statements with his graffiti, and has made previous forays into the Palestinian territories.

In one secret visit, he drew a girl being pulled upwards by balloons on the dividing wall, and he is believed to have entered Gaza to draw four street murals, including one on a metal door that depicted the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house.

The identity of the world’s best-known graffiti artist remains a mystery and he was not present during the revealing of his latest work.

“Banksy is trying to be a voice for those that cannot speak,” Salsaa said, adding that he was “creating a new model of resistance through art”.

More traditional Bethlehem Christmas festivities will take place next week at the church built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born.

Source: The Guardian.

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