WALL THAT YOU CAN’T LEAVE BEHIND
Banksy’s Walled Off Inn, located in Bethelem, is an ideal alternative Xmas destination – and offers an excellent insight into Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.
If you are planning to get away for Xmas but have left it to the last minute, you might still be able to book a room at the Walled Off inn in Bethlehem. The Walled Off boasts “the worst view of any hotel in the world” and rooms that barely manage 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day.
Owned by English street artist Banksy, it opens onto a narrow passage along the Apartheid
Wall, as it rips through the small Palestinian town where, supposedly, esus Christ was born. Although operating as a small conventional hotel, it is also a piece of protest art, a museum, a gallery and a base for organising protest.
Facilities include a “presidential suite”, with water gushing from a bullet-riddled water-tank into a hot tub and bunk-beds in the “budget room”, fashioned from bits and pieces recovered from an abandoned Israeli army barracks.
“Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before Trump made it cool,” says Banksy. He’d visited Bethlehem a dozen years ago and left a series of paintings on the ugly stretch of concrete which corrals the Palestinian people into decrepit Bantustans in their own land. In March this year, he returned to establish “a three-storey cure for fanatics with limited car parking.”
Banksy is among the leaders of what might be called the cultural wing of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. BDS was launched in 2005 by more than a hundred Palestinian civil society organisations – trade unions, community groups, religious, cultural and sporting associations. Roger Waters is the most vocal musician backing BDS.
The movement arose in response to Israel’s dismissal the previous year of a ruling by the International Court of ustice confirming the illegality of the Apartheid Wall. Israel was able to make rubbish of the ruling, knowing that the US would veto any proposed UN action and that the EU – including Ireland – would keep its lip zipped and maintain friendly ties with the Tel Aviv regime.
Israel’s shrugging off of the ICC ruling cleared away any doubt about the futility of pursuing justice for Palestine by constitutional means or appeals to the “international community”.
This was the spark that lit BDS. Moreover, the construction of the Wall cast lurid light on the parallels between the colonial oppression of Palestine and the plight of the black majority in South Africa under Apartheid.
(Nothing enrages supporters of Israel – including the tireless keyboard warriors at the Israeli embassy on Pembroke Road – more than assertion of the identity of Israeli Zionism with the racism that once defined South Africa. This is antisemitism, they blather. But no, it’s not, as Nelson Mandela repeatedly, robustly declared. Then again, I suppose, what would Mandela have known about Apartheid¶®
Banksy and Waters should be garlanded with honour for the leadership they have given.
Many others, however, should be branded with ignominy.
Everywhere last Xmas, look-back features had lists of the shining stars who’d shuffled off their mortal coil in Óä£È – Bowie, Prince, Muhammed Ali, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Carrie Fisher, etc. This year, I sadly say goodbye to Chrissie Hynde, Radiohead, Nick Cave.
Thom 9orke rejected a direct appeal from en Loach not to take to the stage in Tel Aviv to spit on the Palestinian people: “Music, art and academia is about crossing borders not building them, about open minds not closed ones, about shared humanity, dialogue and freedom of expression.”
Every word of that slithery excuse could have been used, and was used, by the wretches and ruffians who broke the boycott of South Africa.
The music the miscreants made is there, part of the soundtrack to many of our lives over a long period. I am not going to run for the offswitch on the radio when a number from Last Of The Independents, OK Computer or Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! comes on. But personally, individually, they are dead to me.
We should remember these things when invited in the days ahead to join in the sweet chorus, “Hail, thou ever-blessed morn/ Hail, redemption’s happy dawn/ Sing through all Jerusalem/ Christ is born in Bethlehem”.
We should remember, too, that some of those we once held up as heroes turn out to have feet of clay enclosed in jackboots.
Letters of complaint to the editor, please. I couldn’t care less what or whether <ionists think of me.
immy Breslin died in March. He was one of the best journalists America has ever produced, and a truly lovely man. I once phoned him to announce that my former partner, the late Mary Holland, and myself would be hitting New 9ork next day. “9ou gotta come and stay,” he insisted and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
First morning there, we were puzzled immy wasn’t around. Turned out his kids were at home. There hadn’t really been room for us. Rosemary and he had left to stay in a hotel.
In November £ÈÎ, immy realised that every dog and divil in journalism would be covering the burial at Arlington of ohn F. ennedy. So, instead, he called at 6am for the Puerto Rican guy scheduled to dig the grave, accompanied him to the cemetery, talked about his arrival in the
US, his family life in New 9ork, how he reckoned
ennedy would be remembered in Puerto Rica. The best coverage of the funeral by a thousand miles.
His streetsmart novel, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, closely based on the life of New 9ork Mafia Godfather oey Gallo, opened with the sentence, “id Sally gave his daughter a wolfhound for her fifth birthday because he wanted her to grow up in an atmosphere of teeth.” 9est