If you look on a map, Jerusalem looks like a small peninsula jutting into the West Bank, with Bethlehem immediately on the walled-in side. According to a local guide, the barrier is 830 kilometers long and nearly four meters high, intended to keep people in, not out. Life inside in the wall is a community of its own, throttled by the government with great restrictions on the people. Testimonies inside the wall from civilians indicate the consequences of walling in an entire population. Permits to leave can take long to get and medical treatment can be slow to come by for those in dire need.
In 2003, street artist and political activist, Banksy, adorned Bethlehem with his first of many stenciled designs that made world fame. “Rage, Flower Thrower” depicts a masked man throwing a bouquet of flowers rather than a grenade or Molotov cocktail. This may be his most iconic piece of all time, staged loud and proud on the wall of an unassuming building in Palestine.
If you know his style, it’s fairly easy to spot the work of Banksy scattered at the checkpoint into Bethlehem. If you don’t know it, the Walled Off Hotel– a pun from the Waldorf-Astoria- is an immediate giveaway. This is the starting point of a Banksy-heavy area that is continually updated with layers of paint on the checkpoint wall. A five-minute walk will cover numerous works, along with the murals of other street artists.
On a tour to see the Church of the Nativity and Mother Mary’s Milk Grotto, this display is a surprising highlight. It is a thought-provoking, modern tale of life in the wall.