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Banksy's art highlighting occupation angers Israeli peace-pretender

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Visitors take photographs of the 'replica separation barrier' created by British street artist Banksy as it stands on display at the Palestine tourist stand at the World Travel Market at the Excel centre in London. (Photo by Reuters)

A British-Israeli art collector who claims to be an advocate of peace between Palestine and Israel has been angered at the way British artist Banksy has depicted Israel’s long years of occupation of Palestine.

Batia Ofer, the wife of London-based Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, said Saturday that the way the British underground artist had depicted Israel’s presence in the occupied West Bank in a recent poster was more anti-Semitic than artistic.

In his poster meant for encouraging tourism in the West Bank, Banksy depicted children on a fair riding around a watchtower in the occupied territory. A slogan written underneath the poster reads, “Visit historic Palestine, the Israeli army liked it so much they never left!”

The limited edition poster, published on Banksy’s Instagram page, was handed out by Palestinian officials in the World Travel Market London this week. Palestinian authorities have praised the poster as not only denouncing the Israeli occupation but also drawing tourists, especially the youth, to visit the occupied territories and get a glimpse of what has been left of decades of Israeli occupation.

Ofer, however, said the poster was an existential threat to Israel, which she claimed was the only democracy in the Middle East region that respected people from all religions.

“You may criticize Israel for the current situation and I’m totally for a two-state solution and fight for justice on both sides,” said Ofer while referring to Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the lands it occupied after the 1967 Arab War, which many say is the main impediment to peace in the Palestinian territories.

Ofer said Banksy’s poster was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda before the Second World War and was anti-Semitic.

“BUT insinuating we don’t have a right to exist… is disgraceful. In addition – military service in Israel is mandatory! So your poster is denouncing all Israelis!” she said in a post on her Instagram page.

Banksy is quite known for his support of the Palestinian cause and has previously used his artistic work to criticize Israeli policies to restrict the movement of the Palestinians in their own territories.

In one of his most famous works, called the Walled Off hotel, he has highlighted a giant barrier erected by the Israelis in the West Bank which effectively imprisons the residents in the area and cuts them off from the rest of their lands.

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