The British artist Banksy, who has painted a number of famous murals on the Israeli Annexation Wall in Bethlehem, has taken his art activism to a new level by opening a boutique hotel just next to the Wall in Bethlehem.
The building used for the “Walled Off” (hint: rhymes with ‘Waldorf’) Hotel sits just across the street from the Israeli Annexation Wall in an area known to Palestinians and Israelis alike as ‘Rachel’s Tomb’, in the northern part of the city of Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is known to Christians worldwide as the birthplace of Jesus, but the city has suffered tremendously over the past fifteen years as the Israeli occupation authoriities have imposed a stranglehold on their local economy.
Through the construction of the Annexation Wall, which began in 2003, the economy of bethlehem, largely dependent on tourists and religious pilgrims, has plummeted.
Banksy’s new hotel is an attempt, according to the artist and hotel staff, to both support the local economy of Bethlehem while bringing international attention to the plight of the Palestinians in the city, who live walled off from the world in what they have termed a ‘ghetto’ due to the Israeli Annexation Wall.
The hotel features art that symbolizes the Israeli Occupation od Palestine, including paintings that are imprisoned behind steel bars, a portrait of Jesus with drones overhead and a laser sight on his forehead, and a display of surveillance cameras overlooking patrons to the hotel bar.
In an interview with hotel manager Wisam Salsaa, a reporter from the British Channel 4 News asked Salsa how Banksy managed to secretly put together such a large undertaking. Salsa replied simply, “Well, he’s Banksy!”