Banksy, Raja Shehadeh and the Israeli West Bank barrier

photography of a Banksy graffiti at the Israel...
Photograph of Banksy graffiti on the Israeli West Bank barrier in Bethlehem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As part of my research before I go to the Occupied Palestine Territories I am reading a book by the Orwell Prize winning author, Raja Shehadeh. Occupation Diaries is the follow up to the much acclaimed Palestinian Walks, and is a personal account of life in the West Bank between December 2009 and September 2011, leading up to the Palestinian bid for UN statehood.

One of the earliest entries, 4th January 2010, details the trip taken by Shehadeh and his wife to visit the work of British street artist Banksy, in Bethlehem. On the Palestinian side of the Israeli imposed ‘security barrier,’ running (upon completion) for 700km (Wikipedia, 2012), Banksy had recorded nine stencilled pictures of smiling children, rope ladders and beautiful views through imagined windows.

Was Banksy taking a political stance to the construction of the barrier? Or was he just looking for a place to express his art? His website stated; “How illegal is it to vandalize a wall, if the wall itself has been deemed unlawful by the International Court of Justice? The Israeli government is building a wall surrounding the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It stands three times the height of the Berlin Wall and will eventually run for over 700km – the distance from London to Zurich. The wall is illegal under international law and essentially turns Palestine into the world’s largest open prison… It also makes it the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers.” (Guardian, 2005)