Palestine, Bethlehem. While traveling around Banksy’s mural paintings on the separation wall between Israel and Palestine, meeting with the first Japanese artist in Asia to paint.
There is a wall painting made by Banksy in Palestine. It is the place that media made a noise one time. Location is in Bethlehem, Palestine. Bethlehem is said to be the place where Christ was born. On the first visit in 1990, it was the time of “Intifada”. Restaurant/shop was closed even in day time in Jerusalem old town, and nobody was walking on the street heading to the long road to ”Church to the Nativity”, and shop along to the road is closed with heavy iron door.
In 2019, on my second visit, its situation has changed drastically. In Bethlehem, there are many buildings, and many people are walking down the street. According to explanation by tour guide, I understand that “Intifada” was fierce around in 1990, and therefore, shops were closed even in day time.
”Banksy Wall Painting” is the place that Banksy has made a painting on the wall in Bethlehem and it became famous. First, “why there is a wall?” and “what is that wall? ” According to the explanation by tour guide, this wall was suddenly built by Israel, on the line which is different from the agreed boundary between Israel and Palestine. The purpose of this wall made by Israel is to have Israel residential area in Palestine territory and to limit the action by Palestine people.
This wall is not in limited area, and Banksy painted the drawing in several places. One of the famous painting is “Two Angels trying to open the wall”. This is the protest to Israel authority who has built the wall unfairly. While, there are so many paintings around this famous Banksy drawing, by the other artists. I guess these are the impact of the Banksy paintings that became very famous.
By the way, there is one hotel managed by Banksy, in front of the painting of “Two Angels trying to open the wall”. This hotel is called “The Walled Off Hotel”, and Banksy’s artworks are displayed in the lobby in the ground floor. Artworks include security camera and I was excited and impressed for the sense of his artworks. At the back side of the hotel, there is a museum displaying the artworks by Palestine artists.
Banksy is very famous for the unidentified person. I have made the same question to the three people working in the hotel. Question is “Have you met with Banksy?” The first person was the gentleman in the hotel reception, the second person was the lady in the hotel reception, the third person was lady in the reception of the museum backside of ground floor. Well, the answer of these three people was the same, though its expression was a little different. It was “I may have met, or I may have not met”.
In short, “I have met with many people, but Banksy is unidentified and therefore, I do not recognize who is the Banksy.” I admire Banksy very much, Banksy’s own policy, not to disclose his/her identity, is through. By the way, the person to guide me was the same response, even if, he has met many artists painting on the wall. It was “I may have met, or I may have not met”. By the way, there was one person painting on the wall, with ladder, in front of the hotel. She must be the tourist who has paid some fee to the hotel, according to the information.
In addition, artists painted on the wall is from USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Palestine, and I have accidentally found one oriental person approx. 50 meters away from the hotel. I had a little talk with him. He was Japanese artist “Yume-shi” and will paint the dragon. According to the explanation by tour guide, he must be the first Asian person addition to the first Japanese. As Japanese, this is very respectful and hoping that he has completed his painting.
I have contacted to “Yume-shi” and had the dragon painting picture that was made on the wall. According to his information, he was caught by the Israel police in front of the wall, then packed into armored car, going around for some time, then released. He has finally made his drawing overnight, on the wall near original place. Precisely, it was not on the wall, on the security tower between the wall. Though there was no security person on the tower, it is the proverb, “darkest under the post”.
While walking around the world, there are cases to meet with Japanese, in a very remote place. This is one of the cases and I have felt the Japanese power. I hope he will continue to be active around the world.
Other Banksy paintings than “Two Angels to open the wall” is described as below.
A small Marking Painting located a little far from “The Walled Off Hotel”. This is not famous. I understand that message is “Wall is fragile to be broken soon”.
The painting one boy throwing a flower. Flower must be stone or others, but one boy has a bundle of flower. I understand that this means the protest to the Israel authority. According to the explanation by my tour guide, one boy on this painting is the real person and he was dead/killed by a series of conflict with Israel authority. This painting is drawn on the building wall of car wash cleaner.
This painting must be one of the famous paintings. I understand that this was painted at the very initial time period when Banksy has come to Palestine. It is “One girl with balloon getting over the wall”. According to the explanation by tour guide, original painting by Banksy was erased, but other people has made the same graffiti a little right-hand side of the original painting. This means that current painting is not made by the Banksy, precisely saying. Location is out of Ramallah, the capital of Palestine. Wall is located near the Security Check Point. There are many paintings on the wall, but it is a little messy and it is difficult to appreciate it.
This is the painting of dove with target marking. One Israel security tower is observed, a couple of hundred meter away. In short, this dove is targeted by the Israel person on the security tower. This is painted on the outside wall of the building, located, approx. 200 meters away from the Walled Off Hotel.
Wall painting and graffiti culture can be seen all around the world. I have seen graffiti mainly in Europe and Middle and South America, but this graffiti on the wall in Palestine includes the strong political message. In addition, around this wall, I could see the Israel soldiers, and it is filled by the tense atmosphere. In this sense, this must be the special place that can be said as “Amazing Place”. I hope that environment which Israel and Palestine could talk each other equally and situation to be changed in a good direction for both Palestine and Israel.
At last, I introduce the guide tour who take me to the place. I have participated on the private tour. Guide is Mr. Salah, who is Palestine. His guide was very professional with enthusiasm and passion. This tour was valuable and never experienced. My main purpose to participate on this tour was to see the Banksy’s artworks, but he has taken me to the place to see and understand the current Palestine issues with very professional and profound explanation, and I recognize my own shallow knowledge about the Palestine. Palestine has currently many issues, but I guess it is to be progressed/improved if there are the people like Mr. Sarah. I recommend very much to participate onto this tour when you visit the Palestine.
Visited in 2019.
■ Name of Place : Banksy Wall Painting, Bethlehem, Palestine
■ Address : 182 Caritas Street, Bethlehem, Palestine (Address of “the Walled off Hotel” / Banksy Guest House）
■ Homepage : http://walledoffhotel.com/
(described on Sep 19 2019)
(updated on Jul 4 2020)