Anti-Semitic (Con)Artist Banksy to Exhibit during Art Basel Miami Beach

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We may not know the true identity of the cagey artist dubbed “Banksy,” but what do we know with certainty?  We know that he’s an Anti-Semite who infuses anti-Jewish, anti-Israel themes in his craft.

Most people, other than aesthetes or those familiar with graffiti art, where unfamiliar with vandal street artist Banksy until a few weeks ago.  That is, except Palestinians.  His recent infamy was snagged by shredding a picture entitled Girl with Balloon during an October, 2018 Sotherby’s auction.   But that stunt is not why Banksy should be on your radar, or why I characterize his work as “artistic terrorism” – anti-Semitism masquerading as art.

The Walled Off Hotel.  In 2017 Banksy opened the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem.  The hotel is a few feet from the security barrier protecting Israeli civilians from suicide bombers and terrorist.  Banksy strategically situated the hotel near the security barrier, boasting that the hotel has the “worst view in the world.”  Ironically, the truly disturbing views are contained within the hotel.  The small hotel serves as a quasi-museum displaying pictures, videos and exhibits with the single purpose of promoting anti-Semitic propaganda.

Banksy incorporates Holocaust imagery in several displays, including a scale whereby one Jewish tooth outweighs hundreds of Palestinian teeth; a glass case containing clothing and shoes of Palestinian children.  Videos share a fabricated history of Israel, sanitized of any record of a Jewish presence in Israel, suggesting that Jews migrated to Israel following the Holocaust because they had “nowhere else to go.”  One poster proclaims: “Visit historic Palestine.  The Israeli army liked it so much they never left!”

The Banksy paintings that adorn the walls include symbolism of Jews as Christ killers, Israelis as militarily oppressing Palestinians, and a picture that includes the phrase “Free Palestine.”  Although hotel representatives have been quoted as saying the purpose of the museum is to open a dialogue, the entirely false narrative and offensive imagery imparts upon the uninformed visitor the fictitious tale of an invading, marauding power, subjugating the Palestinians.  Conspicuously absent from the Walled Off Hotel’s museum of deception and dishonesty are the underlying facts that necessitated the security barrier.

Recent History and Facts.  Judea and Samaria were divided into three Areas – A, B and C, following the Oslo II Accords (aka Taba Agreement), signed on September 28, 1995.  Bethlehem is included in Area A, exclusively administered by the Palestinian Authority.   The PA maintains the civil law and controls security in Bethlehem.  Israeli Jews are not permitted access into Area A.  The security barrier was built during the second intifada, following the killings of more than 1,000 and wounding 7,000 Israelis between 2000 and 2005.  It has proven successful in limiting access of terrorists into Israel.  The Walled Off Hotel is in an area controlled and governed exclusively by the PA, not Israel.

There are at least 20 border barriers in the world.  Israel did not invent such barriers, but without it, there would undeniably be significantly more Israeli civilian blood spilled.  Where is Banksy’s hotel by the wall between Saudi Arabia and Iraq or India and Pakistan, South Africa and Zimbabwe or Kuwait and Iraq?

Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel is a uniquely anti-Semitic, anti-Israel homage and testament to hate.  It breathes new life into antiquated anti-Semitic libels.  Gone are the days where anti-Semites wear white hoods or uniforms with swastikas.  Today, sadly, they are to the left and right of us.  Some wield guns, others pens and paint brushes.  Banksy’s pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, false narrative themes are palpable, and can be found in on-line interviews of hotel staff, as well as many other postings.

What I find particularly infuriating are hotel reviews that ignore the flagrant anti-Semitic themes boasted in the Walled Off Hotel.  One such article appeared on-line in Forbes on October 27, 2018.  The writer, a self-proclaimed Banksy fan, described a grey concrete wall, yet failed to make any mention of the necessity for such a security barrier, or the innocent victims of suicide bombings.  The article includes pictures that clearly portray Israel in a biased, prejudicial light.  The caption under one picture reads, “The Walled Off Museum that tells a heartbreaking story of how the wall was built.”  The Forbes article is void of credibility and lacks a whit of journalistic integrity.  Shame on Forbes.

More than two million tourists visit Bethlehem annually.  (Yes, unquestionably indicative of a city under Israeli military siege.)  How many of these tourists will leave Bethlehem brainwashed by the Walled Off Hotel’s maligning Israel, mislead by the dishonest video presentations and rabble-rousing themes?

Art Basel Miami Beach.  Art Basel stages three major annual art fairs — Hong Kong, Basel and Miami Beach, and includes more than 250 galleries and 4,000 artists from across the world.  Art Basel Miami Beach will be held from December 5 through December 9, 2018.  Although officially held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, events and satellite fairs spring up in conjunction with Art Basel.

The Banksy exhibit will be held in the Little Haiti section of Miami, beginning December 1, organized by his former agent, Steve Lazarides.

As mentioned in my recent Times of Israel anti-BDS post by way of open letter to the miscreant Roger Waters, I am not a fan of a cultural boycott – although I do draw a line at anti-Semitism masquerading as art.  Purchasing his work, paying the entry fee to view his exhibit, is supporting an anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli propogandist.

You may very well know someone (at least via one degree of separation) attending Art Basel.  In the words of Paul Harvey, you now know the “rest of the story” on Banksy.  If you are in Miami in early December, or know someone attending Art Basel, visit or encourage friends to visit the Banksy exhibit and share a message with the curator: “Next time Banksy shreds his art work, please have him shred his anti-Semitic work.”

About the Author
Dan Kaskel is resident of Boca Raton, FL since 1999, and active member of the South Florida Jewish community. Dan is a partner in a mid-size law firm and serves on several Jewish and law related boards, including the Executive Board of the Boca Raton Synagogue. A former board member of the local Bar Association, Dan has been appointed to serve a second term on a Florida Bar Grievance Committee.
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