We couldn't work out if Banksy's taging of the Segregation Wall Palestine was 'Cheap publicity from other peoples misery' or 'Publicity for Palestinian misery'? So here is a review from the Intifada.
Well-known UK graffiti artist Banksy hacks the Wall
Nigel Parry, The Electronic Intifada, 2 September 2005
The Wall around Qalqiliya. A twenty-five foot high concrete cage cuts residents off from their agricultural land, necessary for their survival, and prevents you from traveling even 5 minutes out of the City. A single gate, open at the whims of the occupying army, controls 100,000 residents.
Whitewashing the Wall
In June 2003, I received an e-mail in EI’s inbox from a Nathan Edelson, who introduced himself as “a design critic whose features on architecture have been published in major U.S. newspapers,” which a Lexis-Nexis newspaper database supported. He was writing a story “about architecture in Israel, with emphasis on the new security ‘fence’ which you rightly call a wall.” His request was for larger images of the Israel’s West Bank barrier for study, and explained that “the premise of my article is that one can argue about the desirability of a wall, and certainly where it runs, but if it is going to be built it should not be an aesthetic monstrosity.”
As you can imagine, we get a lot of crazy mail at EI, ranging from the fundamentalist who has for years been weekly mailing Zen-like one-liners such as “Biblical Christianity will one day return to the Holy Land,” to the ex-Israeli soldier who sent photos of him in service across the occupied territories with accompanying narratives of how much he enjoyed mistreating the Palestinians he came across. But somehow, this e-mail from internationally-respected design critic Nathan Edelson won my vote for the most clueless communication that info@electronicIntifada.net has ever received.
Usually, all correspondents to EI receive a polite response with links to more information. But when a clearly educated person tries to get you to swallow soup with a turd in it, there’s got to be a cut-off point for pleasantries.
“That's a little,” I replied, “like arguing for nice faux painting on gas chamber walls or calling for Martha Stewart torture chamber bed sets. Clearly ethics play no part in your school of design criticism.”
Edelson’s reply was truly surreal. “I could accuse you of having no ethics because you want the security wall to be as repulsive as possible so it will stir up the maximum possible resentment, which will translate into more violence.”
“I care very much about where the security wall runs,” he continued, “as well as how it looks. My upcoming article will hopefully elicit meaningful conversation between the sides based on a joint desire to make a bad thing better, and this can help create the trust which can change not only the look but the routing of the barrier.”
Of course, the second the beautification of the barrier is complete, the Israelis, who bulldozed and confiscated countless acres of Palestinian land to build the wall, cut off thousands of farmers from their sole livelihood and, in one example, surrounded a single Palestinian family home in a mini-wall, will sit down for a meaningful conversation with their new Palestinian friends about the route of the finished barrier! I was also chastised by Edelson for being less than “civil” in my response to him.
“There is nothing you can do aesthetically,” I wrote in my reply to Edelson, “which will make this wall benign. There is no making it ‘better’. Want a big picture of the wall? Here's one attached. Do you think a nice mottled green would help it blend in to the indigenous landscape nicely? Or perhaps some arches and battlements for a more traditional medieval flavor?”
This satellite image of Qalqilya and Israel's West Bank Barrier surrounding the city was taken on 7 June 2003. The progress of construction of the barrier can clearly be seen, ultimately cutting off residents from their surrounding agricultural land. See here for before & after images. (Photo: Space Imaging/NTA Space Turk)
“If you actually intend to actually write an article arguing for this monstrous whitewashing of a visible human rights violation -- and it says so much about the state of ignorance in America that you are even thinking of it or if indeed there is any likelihood any serious newspaper would print it -- I would suggest you first get on a plane and go visit Qalqiliya and Rafah and see the reality for yourself. Speak to the people who live there. See how the thing plays out on the ground.”