Report: Banksy, World’s Most Mysterious Graffiti Artist, Spotted in Israeli Shopping Mall
A woman passing by a soon-to-open exhibit at an Israeli shopping mall — featuring the “Art of Banksy” — claims to have caught the elusive British graffiti painter on camera, the UK’s The Sun reported on Sunday.
The man in the cellphone footage, according to the woman who filmed him, “is maybe around 40… He’s not Israeli for sure.”
The man is seen in an art studio at the Arena Mall in the Herzliya Marina, where the exhibit is going to be held, and when he notices the camera, he covers his face with his hand.
“I’m not what you’d call a huge fan,” the woman said. “But I was saying to myself, ‘Oh my god, it’s him. I think it’s Banksy.’”
The world-famous yet anonymous street painter shot to the headlines last month — yet again — but this time for opening The Walled Off Hotel in the Palestinian Authority-governed city of Bethlehem, which he designed and owns.
As The Algemeiner reported, the hotel is located next to the West Bank security barrier — built by Israel more than a decade ago as part of an effort to thwart Palestinian terrorist attacks — on which Banksy painted murals in the past. And, according to Banksy’s website, it 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.”
In a statement, Banksy said, “It’s exactly one hundred years since Britain took control of Palestine and started re-arranging the furniture — with chaotic results. I don’t know why, but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.”
Artists 4 Israel Executive Director Craig Dershowitz praised the endeavor, telling The Algemeiner that the global graffiti artist community is “overwhelmingly in support of peaceful coexistence and examining the conflict with new eyes. Rather than the black-and-white, zero-sum game that so many activists see on both sides, artists see the many colors.”
In a subsequent op-ed, Middle East expert Reuven Berko, former Arab affairs adviser to the Jerusalem Police, took the opposite position, writing, in part:
In the context of the Middle Eastern bloodbath, the millionaire graffiti artist Banksy is characterizing his crazy Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem as “overlooking the worst view in the world.” In a display in his hotel, the activist artist portrays the lives of the Jews and the security fence that protects them as a “bad view” of the despicable occupation, and Israel as one of England’s mistakes (referring to the Balfour Declaration). The hotel masquerades as a tourism project to promote Palestinian artists and encourage dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis who are represented on one wall as a soldier and a terrorist engaged in a pillow fight…Banksy is trying to attach the stigma of apartheid and racism to Israel, tear down the wall, and make it easier for the Palestinians to carry out killing and murder sprees against the “apartheid” state.
This is not the first time that a member of the public in one country or another has recorded a purported “Banksy sighting.”