The anonymous, yet, paradoxically, world-renowned artist Bansky has designed and financed a hotel in the city of Bethlehem.
The controversial project has incited a well-timed discussion on the centenary of the Balfour declaration and the Sykes–Picot agreement.
It’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint just one cause of the current turmoil in the Middle East. The political instability of the region is due to a complex mix of factors; ill fated foreign intervention, despotic leaders, religious radicalism and world market economy.
Yet certainly, the roots of the Middle East’s modern crisis can be traced back to 1916/1917, at the height of World War I, when France and the UK secretly plotted to share the remains of the Ottoman Empire. This infamous Sykes–Picot agreement, as well as the financial and political thumbs up from the UK in favour of the Jewish occupation of Palestine, ignited a series of events of which the current conflict can be considered as the latest episode.
Oscar nominee Bansky has created a hotel on the occasion of the centenary of the Balfour declaration. As the hotel’s website states, “2017 marks a hundred years since the British took control of Palestine and helped kick start a Century of confusion and conflict.”
The Walled Off Hotel has nine guest rooms and a presidential suite, located in Area C of the West Bank, a zone which both Israelis and Palestinians are allowed to transit. The hotel is just steps away from the infamous wall that separates the two nations.
Banksy and invited artists Sami Musa and Dominique Petrin have made each room into a particular art installation. There’s the $30 budget room, decorated with surplus items from Israeli military barracks and featuring complimentary earplugs, and there’s the $965 a night presidential suite which has original artwork, library, home cinema, a roof garden, tiki bar and as the official website states, “is equipped with everything a corrupt head of state would need”
And no, it’s not a joke. They make it clear that The Walled Off Hotel is a “genuine art hotel with fully functioning ensuite facilities and limited car parking. Operated by the local community, we offer a warm welcome to everyone from all sides of the conflict and across the world.
Instead of a gym, Bansky’s hotel has a museum. The permanent exhibit provides historical context to visitors, providing facts without picking sides in the conflict.
As they state on their website, “[The hotel] is not aligned to any political movement or pressure group. The aim is to tell the story of the wall from every side and give visitors the opportunity to discover it for themselves. We offer an especially warm welcome to young Israelis. Absolutely no fanaticism is permitted on the premises.
If the presidential suite is just too much for you, but you’re not in the mood for barracks, there are other rooms available from $215 to 265. Due to the amount of original artwork decorating the accommodations, a $1000 deposit is required with every booking, except for the budget rooms.