New Banksy pro-Palestine artwork sparks spat with Israeli art collector

New Banksy pro-Palestine artwork sparks spat with Israeli art collector
The secretive underground British artist displayed new Palestine artwork of Israel's separation wall at the World Travel Market London international trade show last week.
3 min read
12 November, 2018
Banksy unveiled new artwork at the World Travel Market in London last week. [Instagram/Banksy]
New pro-Palestine artwork by Banksy has sparked a social media spat with a top Israeli art collector, who claimed the British artist's latest work was "Nazi propaganda" and antisemitic.

Last week, the secretive underground artist displayed artwork of Israel's separation wall at the World Travel Market London international trade show.

The exhibition is the largest trade show in the world, with over 50,000 travel agents attending and more than $4.2 billion made in business deals.

"Opening my first ever stall at a trade fair next week. I've painted a replica separation barrier to promote the Walled Off Hotel… We'll be at the Palestine stand giving away free stuff," Banksy wrote on Instagram before the show.

The artwork featured two grey concrete slabs of Israel's 700-kilometer wall surrounding the occupied West Bank being prised apart by two angels representing Israel and Palestine.

Banksy also posted another image of a limited-edition poster which was distributed at the exhibition by Palestinian tourism officials.

The poster depicted children on a fairground ride around an Israeli military watchtower in the occupied West Bank with the slogan: "Visit historic Palestine, the Israeli army liked it so much they never left!"

Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maayah praised the artist's stall at the trade exhibition, saying his artwork promoted Palestine while exposing the Israeli occupation.

But the artwork drew a swift rebuke online from top Israeli art collector Batia Ofer, who claimed it resembled Nazi propaganda from the 1930s.

"You may criticise Israel for the current situation and I'm totally for a two state solution and fight for justice on both sides! BUT insinuating we don't have a right to exist (which is exactly what your poster does using the term "historic Palestine") suggesting Israel has no right to ANY land is disgraceful," she wrote on Instagram.

"In addition - military service in Israel is mandatory! So your poster is denouncing all Israelis! Your posters resemble Nazi propaganda in the 1930s and spread antisemitism @banksy#antisemitism," she added.

Ofer, who is the wife of London-based Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, attached a doctored version of Banksy's poster to her account, which replaced the word "Palestine" with "Israel" and said "All are welcome to the only democracy in the Middle East."

Banksy did not respond to her comments.

The artist has a long history in the Palestinian territories. Last year, Banksy opened a hotel next to Israel's controversial separation wall in Bethlehem.

In February 2015, he allegedly sneaked into the Gaza Strip through a smuggling tunnel and painted three works on the walls of Gaza homes destroyed in Israeli airstrikes during the devastating conflict of the previous year.

In 2007, he painted a number of artworks in Bethlehem, including a young girl frisking an Israeli soldier pinned up against a wall.

In 2005, he sprayed nine stencilled images on the vast barrier erected by Israel to separate itself from most of the occupied West Bank.

The wall is one of the most striking symbols of Israel's 50-year occupation, and has become a major focus for demonstrations and art work.

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