A Travellerspoint blog

West Banksy

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“We build too many walls and not enough bridges” Isaac Newton

Build something high and wide enough and you should never have to worry about whatever it is that frightens you on the other side. Like the monster under the bed it can never get you if you don’t look. However, no matter how mighty the effort, there are some things that can never be locked away.

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How high is high enough?

On the west bank of Palestine we didn’t find terror or terrorists, we found Banksy, fantastically friendly people and a wall. In the biblical town of Bethlehem that wall has failed to contain the inhabitants spirit and has instead become the canvas for their freedom of expression.

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Banksy’s Art: Intelligent Activism

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The past or the future?

It is hard to imagine walls in any other context than as relics of bygone eras. Epic monuments to mans failed attempts to control and coral other human beings. History is littered with prodigious ramparts; Hadrian’s Wall, The Berlin Wall, The Maginot Line, The Great Wall… mighty in both scope and human endeavour they are unified mostly by their monumental failure to achieve their goals.

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Walls are some people’s future.

Between Israel and Palestine the Israeli Government is building a 12 metre high wall. It is currently 440kms and upon completion it will be more than 700km long.

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Successful walls keep dangerous entities where they can do no harm.

The wall effectively separates the West Bank from Israel. Palestinians and there families are spread all over both Israel and the West Bank. Palestinians in the West Bank are not allowed to go beyond the wall.

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The wall is known by two names; In Israel it is called the Separation Wall, in Palestine, it’s called the Apartheid Wall. Like so many things in life perception is defined by which side of the wall you find yourself on.

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Larger than life, a 12 metre high canvas.

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Banksy is the pseudonym of a famous graffiti artist, political activist and painter from the UK. His real name is unknown despite being an active artist for more than twenty years and his art being sold for as much $500,000. Renowned for his satirical street art and dark humour he travelled to the West Bank in 2005 to use his unique style of art to highlight the life of Palestinians behind the wall.

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Wandering the mean streets of Palestine wasn’t scary it was eerie and more than a little sad. Neither of us knew quite how we were supposed to feel but it was impossible not to feel that something wasn’t right.

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I spoke to a Palestinian accountant (Who spoke four languages) on the bus and mentioned we don’t understand how things work in Israel / Palestine, she looked at me and said “Why would you even try to understand, I have lived here my whole life and I can’t began to understand what is happening here”

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So we gave up trying to understand and just walked the walls of Bethlehem and let the art of Banksy and the people of Bethlehem tell its own sad story.

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Classic Banksy.

Walking in the shadow of a wall built to contain an entire people was one of life’s more surreal experiences. I don’t understand the problem. Don’t know the people or the politics. I am as naïve as anyone can be about this part of the world. But even so it is hard to believe that a wall could possibly solve the complex issues that exist in Palestine.

If it is the right solution, then that is very sad.

Remember the West Bank is dangerous! Always find a responsible and sensible driver to take you between artwork sites.

Here are a few photos that show the lighter side of a fantastic part of the world.

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Is that what I think it is?

Warm Palestinian fuzzy’s aside Jen and I packed ourselves and ran screaming when we noticed this suspicious looking “Tube” being assembled in a packed square.

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Palestinians know how to get the fire started, Hairdryer + Fire = GENIUS!

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Checkpoint Chicks, Forget GIRL Power its FIRE Power, Equal Opportunities… to be deadly, Girls can kill anything…

Unsurprisingly sexist comments in Israel have evaporated now that all the hot girls are packing heat.

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You can't be lost if you didn't know where you were to start with... right?

Following in the footsteps of the Romans and the Crusaders I wasn’t the first Westerner to get lost in Jerusalem I’m sure! Seriously I think Gaudi designed this city on a Spiral Draw while eating spaghetti and pondering a squiggle top.

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And lo and beyond, one wrong turn and that’s it… INSTADEATH. Thanks Jerusalem!

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I’ve heard the term “We all have our crosses to bear” but that’s just meant to be a figure of speech surely!

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No Jenny!

With so much gold lying around Jerusalem, and a couple of bankrupt travellers in need of nuptial rings, Jen figured no one would notice if this giant gold pillar went missing. While agreeing wholehearted in theory, I pointed out that as the gold pillar was part of Jesus’s burial tomb, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, what would made us rich in the present would basically guarantee we did poorly in the afterlife.

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Lightbulb Moment…

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So that’s why there's a shortage of Lampshades in Israel!

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Despite there "unique" hat choices its surprising easy for a guy to get a date in Jerusalem.

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It is not what you wear, it’s how you wear it.

The Wailing Wall of Jerusalem creates a pale contrast for the stern and stylish visage of a Hasidic Jew at his daily prays. Jen took this fantastic picture at the very end range of our 65x zoom. For me this picture sums up our experience in Israel and Palestine. It’s a strange and beautiful place, complex, harsh and fantastically different.

It’s not a place we will ever forget.

Posted by 19jenny79 10:22 Archived in Israel

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Comments

A moving story with pictures, yes never sure how one would feel, Very good, thanks

by Bev & Grahm

Love your latest blog about the middle east. Glad you resisted the urge for the gold pillar.
The art is amazing! Really amazing. The pictures really remind us of Belfast and the horrible walls we saw there.
Where will you end up next??
Much love

Mum

by Ellie Greer

Awesome but a bit scary

by Sue Waller

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