Graffiti artist Banksy unveiled his latest creation — a grim spin on a traditional nativity scene — at a boutique hotel in Bethlehem in the days before Christmas.
The new installation, dubbed the “Scar of Bethlehem,” features sculptures of the New Testament’s Joseph, Mary and a baby Jesus in a manger setting. A towering grey wall scarred by a bullet hole ― a wound that resembles a star ― serves as backdrop.
The Israeli government began construction of the barrier in 2002, which it said was necessary to prevent attacks by Palestinians in Israel.
The United Nations has described the wall as an impediment to Palestinians’ access to critical services and resources and said it “disrupts family and social life, undermines livelihoods and compounds the fragmentation of the occupied Palestinian territory.”
Banksy’s hotel, which boasts “the worst view of any hotel in the world,” was opened in 2017. Its rooms and walls are filled with original Banksy artwork, including a mural depicting an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian engaged in a pillow fight.
The hotel’s manager, Wissam Salsaa, told AFP that Banksy’s new artwork was “his own contribution to Christmas.”
“It is a great way to bring up the story of Bethlehem, the Christmas story, in a different way ― to make people think more” of how Palestinians live in Bethlehem, the Biblical birthplace of Jesus, Salsaa said.
This isn’t the first time that Banksy has put a spin on Christmas imagery to critique the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The enigmatic artist was earlier credited with creating a “Christmas card” showing Joseph and Mary blocked from reaching Bethlehem by the Israeli West Bank wall.