Outside of Banksy’s Walled Off hotel located in the West Bank is a “street party” set up by Banksy, marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
The declaration promised that Jewish people would be provided with a homeland in Palestine. In true Banksy fashion, the “party” is tongue-in-cheek because it was not intended to be a celebration. Banksy released a statement saying, “This conflict has brought so much suffering to people on all sides – it didn’t feel appropriate to ‘celebrate’ the British role,” it continued, “The British didn’t handle things well here. When you organise a wedding, it’s best to make sure the bride isn’t already married.”
But Palestinians have been torn apart by Banksy’s involvement in the West Bank. His hotel has caused mixed reactions from those who see it as an opportunity to educate foreign visitors, but others feel it is silencing Palestinian voices and gentrifying the situation.
At a nearby refugee camp called Aida, people were upset that Palestinian children were being used as the “centerpiece” of the performance. “We came because we didn’t like the use of the British flags or the way they were using Palestinian children,” said Munther Amira, a prominent activist from Aida.
The 100 year anniversary is being recognized on Thursday by a dinner with British PM Theresa May and the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israelis and Palestinians are marking the centenary in completely different ways. Next week, a special session of the Israeli parliament will “celebrate the founding diplomatic document of Israeli nationhood.” Palestinians are using the centenary demanding a British apology. Riyad al-Malki, the foreign-minister said, “We asked them to make it right, to make this historical oppression right by recognising the state of Palestine and apologising to the Palestinian people.”
Banksy’s artwork was meant to satirize the dinner. It featured dozens of Palestinian children, burnt flags, and cakes and helmets with the union flag painted on them. It also showed new artwork that was etched into the concrete wall reading “Er … sorry”, from Queen Elizabeth II to the Palestinians.
Roderick Balfour, an ancestor of Lord Balfor who wrote the original document argued that his “famous ancestor” would not be happy with the lack of a Palestinian state. “I’m sure Arthur would say, ‘This is unacceptable’, that there’s got to be more help for the Palestinians,” he told the news agency AFP. “Israel has got all these people living in their midst – probably it’s time that they took stock of that and helped.”
The Balfour Declaration came out after discussion between British Zionist leaders who sought recognition in creating their own Jewish statehood and British politicians dealing with World War I. The declaration promised that the British would assist in creating a Jewish homeland, which became the basis of the British Mandate of Palestine.
A historian, Jonathan Schneer wrote, “It’s so divisive even today because Zionists think that the Balfour declaration laid the foundation stone for modern Israel. They’re right to think that. By the same token, non-Jewish Palestinians and Arabs see it as the foundation stone of their dispossession and misery…Everything stems from the Balfour declaration.”
[via The Guardian]