Titled ‘The Scar of Bethlehem,’ Banksy’s latest depicts a nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and a baby Jesus. Above the trio, however, where the biblical Star of Bethlehem is typically located, a star-shaped bullet hole is displayed in what appears to be a section of Israel’s enormous concrete and steel barrier on the West Bank. The wall between Israel and Palestinian territories is easily recognizable by its trademark tall, narrow segments with holes at the top.
“It is a nativity. Banksy has his own contribution to Christmas,” hotel manager Wissam Salsaa told AFP. “It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way — to make people think more.”
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Salsaa noted that he and many others consider the barrier wall to be a “scar” that should induce “shame in anyone who supported” its erection and maintenance.
A new Banksy piece depicting the nativity scene has appeared on a hotel wall in Bethlehem.— WeirdoWithABeardo (@DarrellCroan) December 21, 2019
The "Scar of Bethlehem features a manger scene with Mary, Joseph & the baby Jesus surrounded by cattle, instead of the sparkly star the urban artist has created a four-pointed bullet hole. pic.twitter.com/iV7u0xYcmD
Israel began building the wall during the Second Intifada, stating that it was intended to stop Palestinian suicide bombers, a Times of Israel report says. While Tel Aviv asserts that the barrier is necessary to prevent further attacks, Palestinians characterize the barrier wall as a representation of apartheid.
Banksy’s piece is displayed at the Walled Off Hotel, Bansky’s own hotel in Palestinian Bethlehem, which overlooks the barrier wall.
Opened two years ago, the hotel is filled with Banksy artwork. It has reportedly been billed as “having the worst view of any hotel in the world.”
Banksy has devoted many of his works to the relations between Israel and the Palestinians. In particular, the Walled Off Hotel’s so-called Banksy’s Room features artwork of a Palestinian and an Israeli having a pillow fight.
The artist is also believed to have visited the Gaza Strip to paint four street murals, including one that depicts the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house, according to the Daily Mail report. One of Banksy’s more famous works depicts a young girl frisking an Israeli soldier that she has pinned up against a wall.
Although his work has been popular since its first appearance in the UK in the early 2000s, Banksy’s true identity remains a mystery. In 2011, Banksy filed a request to appear incognito at the Academy Awards, where a documentary about his work called ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ had been nominated. The request was rejected, reportedly because the organizers were wary of mass confusion should many masked Banksy impostors also attempt to attend the event and claim the award.