“. . . We stand in Manger Square and mimic the dance-steps of Zorba the Greek . . .” (Samih Mohsen)

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Bethlehem Wall. (Photo by Harold Knight. Nov. 6, 2015)

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❶ Banksy hotel opens in Bethlehem, eliciting heated reactions by Palestinians
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Lonely Planet [TOURIST GUIDEBOOK] erases Israeli occupation of Syrian Golan Heights
❷ The ‘Beautiful Resistance’ of Aida Camp – “People cannot tolerate injustice for eternity”
❸ BACKGROUND ARTICLES

  • “Impossible Intimacies: Towards a Visual Politics of “Touch” at the Israeli-Palestinian Border.” Journal for Cultural Research.
  • “Banksy and the Walled Off Hotel: a personal view.” International Solidarity Movement

❹ POETRY by Samih Mohsen

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Banksy’s art.

❶ BANKSY  HOTEL  OPENS  IN  BETHLEHEM,  ELICITING  HEATED  REACTIONS  BY  PALESTINIANS   
Ma’an News Agency
By Jaclynn Ashly and Reem Alqam
March 11, 2017
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s infamous separation wall in the occupied West Bank, while cutting off Palestinians from their lands and religious sites, isolating communities, and eroding the livelihood of scores of Palestinians along its route, has become an unlikely breeding ground for tourism.
___Adjacent to the graffiti-stained separation wall in the city of Bethlehem, which is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements, and next door to the Aida refugee camp, elusive UK artist Banksy now welcomes guests to his latest project: the Walled Off Hotel.     _____In a message written in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, a plaque posted at the entrance to the hotel-cum-art museum tells its guests not to “choose sides” in the conflict. In describing the separation barrier, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, the statement says: “The wall is a lie. It sells the idea that there is a simple divide between the people here, but there isn’t.”       MORE . . . 

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Bethlehem Wall Museum. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 6, 2015.)

. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) LONELY  PLANET  [TOURIST  GUIDEBOOK]  ERASES  ISRAELI  OCCUPATION  OF  SYRIAN  GOLAN HEIGHTS
The Electronic Intifada
The Lonely Planet website highlights sites in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights as “Top experiences in Israel.”      April 26, 2017         Why has Lonely Planet – publisher of the popular travel guidebooks – erased Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights?
___Following the 1967 War, 66 percent of the Syrian Golan – a land mass slightly smaller than Greater London – has been militarily occupied by Israel.
___Its mountainous terrain, forests and rivers means that it is an area of stunning natural beauty, home to a variety of wildlife, including a species of wolf found only in the region. As such, it is no surprise that the Golan has attracted vast numbers of Israeli tourists since its occupation.       MORE. . . .

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Bethlehem Wall Museum. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 6, 2015)

❷ THE  ‘BEAUTIFUL  RESISTANCE’  OF  AIDA  CAMP –  “PEOPLE  CANNOT  TOLERATE  INJUSTICE  FOR  ETERNITY”
International Solidarity Movement
April 19, 2017
Tucked within the antiquated corridors of the municipality of Bethlehem, there lies Aida Camp, established 1950.  The densely populated cement structures, thinly outlined by narrow passageways, are a living summation of the occupation of Palestine itself.   ___Scraping elbows with the massive checkpoint pathway between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, hedged by the West Bank apartheid separation wall and situated nearby two large illegal Israeli settlement blocs, Aida camp sits on the front lines of the Palestinian struggle to exist in the grim face of an ethnic cleansing.       MORE . . .

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Bethlehem Wall Museum.(Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 6, 2015)

❸ BACKGROUND ARTICLES

  • Ball, Anna. “IMPOSSIBLE  INTIMACIES:  TOWARDS  A  VISUAL  POLITICS  OF  “TOUCH”  AT  THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN  BORDER.”
    Journal For Cultural Research, vol. 16, no. 2/3, Apr-Jul2012, pp. 175-195.
    For the British media in particular, Banksy’s image appeared to represent a daring transgression of authoritarian boundaries, his physical and artistic touch upon the Wall serving as a form of transnational and experiential empathy. Indeed, there is much that is “touching” about Banksy’s image, which juxtaposes the cold, stark materiality of the Wall with a whimsical portrait of childhood innocence in a way that is both poignant and provocative. And yet, during his trip to what Banksy described as “the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers”, one encounter shattered this illusion of intimacy. Banksy records how a Palestinian man approached him in order to comment that his work made the Wall look beautiful. “Thank you”, Banksy replied. “We don’t want this wall to be beautiful, we hate it. Go home”, was the man’s curt response. Despite Banksy’s proximity to the Wall, it would seem that something eluded his grasp; not the ability to touch, but the ability to be touched by the border in a way that might engender an empathetic visual intimacy with its spatial experience for the Palestinian subject.    MORE . . . 
  • BANKSY  AND  THE  WALLED  OFF  HOTEL:  A  PERSONAL  VIEW
    International Solidarity Movement
    By al-Khalil team
    March 14, 2017
    Over the last weeks there has been a lot of noise about Banksy (a street artist from the UK, now darling of the art world) and his new hotel in Bethlehem. Initially the vast majority of news articles seemed to glow with praise for this new project.  However I quickly found myself uncomfortable with the language that the project uses in its narrative. And other commentators have also expressed discomfort.  A number of articles have now come out that are somewhat more critical of the enterprise. I decided that to further my own understanding I would talk to some Palestinian activists and then write something myself – so here it is to be shared.
    [. . . .] Banksy’s stated aim is to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in his hotel, but with a few dorm rooms at $30 a night and the next cheapest rooms at $215 up to $965, the only people that the hotel will bring together are the international bourgeoisie, people who are the least affected by the occupation, who maintain their riches in the face of occupation, or even increase them. The global elite do not effect any real change in this world, but rather maintain injustice for their own profit and comfort. So what does he hope to achieve?     MORE . . .

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    Bethlehem Wall Museum. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 6, 2015)

“LAMENTATION,” BY SAMIH MOHSEN

At Manger Square, at midday,
The chairs outside the cafes
Are taken by Western tourists, in September
They sip at their longing for God
The streets teem with passers-by
And foreign languages
We tread on the shadow
Of an old man stretched out on the pavement
With his arm and a tattered shoe for a pillow
His mattress was a story. . .
We pass by his wounds without seeing
Beer tickles our bellies to laughter
And telling inane anecdotes
We try to release the child within us
We stand in Manger Square
And mimic the dance-steps of Zorba the Greek
We step
We laugh
We step into the ring of lamentation.
–translated by Henry King

Samih Mohsen was born in the village of Naqour in Nablus, Palestine (Occupid Territories) in 1953, and has published two collections of poetry, Exiting the Narrow Rooms and Kingdoms & Peril.       From A  BIRD  IS  NOT  A  STONE:  AN  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  POETRY.  Ed. by Henry Bell and Sarah Irving. (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014) –available from Amazon.com.

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Bethlehem Wall. (Photo: Harold Knight, Nov. 6, 2015)

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