Pictures Don’t Lie, But Israeli Oligarchs Do
There’s nothing like a picture to convey with graphic, instinctive intensity a political message. Images also can link historical events or eras or political causes in ways that reams of words may fail to do. Two sets of images have moved me in different ways over the past few weeks. The first and most recent is a new Banksy poster designed to promote his Walled-Off Hotel which abuts the Separation Wall in Bethlehem. The British artist very cleverly took advantage of one of the world’s largest travel exhibitions to promote both the cause of Palestine and his hotel project, which is designed to parody the Occupation and the oppression enshrined in it.
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Our reply to you @banksy. You may criticise Israel for the current situation and I’m totally for a two state solution and fight for justice on both sides! BUT insinuating we don’t have a right to exist (which is exactly what your poster does using the term “historic Palestine”) suggesting Israel has no right to ANY land is disgraceful. In addition- military service in Israel is mandatory! So your poster is denouncing all Israelis! Your posters resemble Nazi propaganda in the 1930s and spread antisemitism @banksy #antisemitism
Today, Haaretz published a puerile report on the Banksy art work, which it lamely called “a stunt.” That makes it appear that the reporter actually has some artistic chops to be able to tell the difference between a piece of art and a stunt. Much of the world finds Banksy’s art quite significant and it commands huge figures when it comes up for sale. I suppose one reporter’s stunt is another person’s serious artistic expression.
The pro-Israel hook for the reporter was an attack against the artist by the wife of billionaire Israeli oligarch, Idan Ofer. The couple have their primary residence in England in order to avoid the Israeli tax regime. They are included among the 18 Israeli oligarchal families which own 60% of the corporate capital in Israel. They earned their fortune in Israel but refuse to pay their fair share, leaving the average Israeli who can’t afford to live such an extravagant lifestyle abroad, to foot their share of the tax bill.
The Haaretz “journalist” also repeated not once, but twice that Ofer was “known for her left-wing views.” When you hear an Israeli who you know is not left-wing boast about themselves being left-wing or some other Israeli figure being left-wing, you know he or she is revealing far more about their own views than those they’re describing. The first thing to consider about this odd claim is: how can an Israeli billionaire oligarch be “left-wing?’ If the Ofers are indeed left-wing then either they’re deluded or the Israeli left exists in some alternate universe in which what’s left has lost all meaning.
Indeed, how does Ofer defend her claim that she is left-wing? She writes:
…I’m totally for a two state solution and fight for justice on both sides…
Oh and let’s not forget that she’s a champion of Palestinian rights because she funds a scholarship for four graduate students (two Israeli Jewish and two Palestinian) to attend the Kennedy School of Government. My, that’s mighty white of her. That’s the extent of her leftism. She’s for two-state and “justice.” In the context of dominance by the extreme right of Israeli national politics I suppose someone who in any other country would be a milquetoast liberal at best, can claim to be a flaming radical.
But her subsequent claims about the nature of Banksy’s posture are ludicrous:
…Insinuating we don’t have a right to exist (which is exactly what your poster does using the term “historic Palestine”) suggesting Israel has no right to ANY land is disgraceful. In addition- military service in Israel is mandatory! So your poster is denouncing all Israelis! Your posters resemble Nazi propaganda in the 1930s and spread antisemitism
Though Ofer owns a substantial modern art collection, she apparently hasn’t grasped the artistic tradition of graphic art in the service of political satire. The poster doesn’t resemble Nazi propaganda in the least. Nor were Nazi graphic images especially known for use of irony or satire, as Banksy’s are. As for her claim about Israeli military service, it’s a complete non-sequitur. Banksy refers to Israel’s military Occupation of Palestine, while Ofer claims that he’s referring to all of Israel as being occupied Palestinian land.
You can see the crudely reworked image which Ofer appears to have hired a pro-Israel artist to create. It offers an entirely fictional image of Israel in which the many minorities in Israeli society exist in the midst of a gay carnival atmosphere. Druze, Muslim, “Israeli,” Christian, Palestinian, and LGBT all live together in bliss. All one need do is ask representatives of any of these groups whether they feel as welcome and respected as this image makes them out to be. How Ofer would know that these groups live in such bliss given that she’s fled Israel for tax purposes is another good question. Her poster adds the tagline, “Israel: the only democracy in the Middle East.” One only hopes that her financial and artistic acumen are better than her political sloganeering.
Last week, in the run-up to the midterm elections, the U.S. Border Patrol organized a preparedness drill for the Central American refugee caravan winding its way slowly through Mexico to the U.S. border. As soon as people discovered the event was scheduled for Election Day and likely to intimidate Hispanic voters from going to the polls, it was quickly cancelled. But not before a photographer captured this image of Border Patrol mounted-horsemen presumably planning to herd the refugees like cattle back away from our sacred border. Not to mention our very own president who intimated that any rock-throwing by such deplorables would be “a firearm.” In Trumpese, that amounts to a shoot to kill order from the commander in chief.
This image reminded me of similar ones I’ve seen of mounted Israeli Border Police charging into crowds of protesting Palestinians. The massive bulk of these ominously-hooded horses as they face down the puny human protesters is genuinely frightening. Just as Israeli Border Police exploit the power of horses to maintain Occupation and subjugate Palestinians, so Trump’s militarized border presence is meant not only to teach a lesson to foreigners seeking safe haven on our shores; it’s meant to rub salt in the wounds of those Americans who continue to believe this country is meant to offer comfort to the poor, starving and oppressed from around the world; just as we’ve done since the first Dutch and English settlers, many of them fleeing religious tyranny, set down roots on these shores.
21 thoughts on “Pictures Don’t Lie, But Israeli Oligarchs Do – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Don’t forget to take into account that circa 1967 both Bethlehem and Nazareth, both being Christian holy site, were by a large majority Christian Arab.
Subsequently, they have been driven out not by the Israelis but by another population in the vicinity and are both now under a majority Moslem control.
I have spoken to Christians from the West Bank who told me it is the lack of freedom and opportunity caused by the occupation that is driving them away. They are better educated, and have more contacts abroad than the average Muslim family, making it easier ( though not less heartbreaking) for them to leave and build a life elsewhere. Which is exactly what Israel wants, making their life bitter so they do not multiply. Sound familiar?
Nazareth in particular is in the north and almost completely on a mountain to herself. There was some years ago mosques being built on supposed church property etc which caused a lot of local problems there. It is fairly autonomous there.
@ Nazareth: It is not ‘on a mountain to itself.’ Where do you dig this stuff up. Nor did the tension between the Christian and Muslim community cause any Christinas to leave Nazareth or Israel.
Do NOT make shit up. If you do, you run the risk of being moderated or banned. All claims you offer must be supported by credible sources. No source, no claim. As far as I’m concerned you have no opinions here (that are valid), unless they’re supported. Consider that before publishing your next comment.
Er, may I point out that Mosques are being used by Israeli Jews as homes and art galleries while their (Muslim) owners are being refused the return and use of the same?
This narrative that Muslims kicked out Christians is false.
I’m Palestinian Christian and most Christians that left if not nearly all left for a variety of reasons. Also the Palestinian Christian population is about where it is always been. The only difference is that the Muslim and Jewish populations grew. People confuse birth rates with ethnic cleansing.
Next time ask actual Palestinian Christians before making stuff up.
@ Butros Dahu: But it’s so much easier and more pleasing to be able to spin made-to-order lies which resemble truth.
So you’re in fact stating that prior to Israeli occupation Bethlehem was a majority Christian town (which is correct) but how come they’ve not been driven out before then, their Muslim compatriots have always been around !
Nope, all internal studies among Christians in the Bethlehem-area show that around 90% declare the economic situation to be the first motivation for leaving. I guees you’re aware of that ugly Wall nearly surrounding all of Bethlehem, and that has taken much land from Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, majority Christians towns, too. (A couple of years ago I saw a list of families who’ve had their land stolen in the area for that Wall, they were mostly Christians judging by the first or/and family names).
And after destroying the Cremisan Valley by that ugly Apartheid Wall cutting the monastery from its land, it seems the State of Israel is planning another Jewish-only road for the settlers through Wadi al-Makhrour (a Palestinian World Heritage Site on the Unesco-list).
@ natasha: What the hell?? You’re daft. No one has driven anyone out and those two communities remain largely Palestinian Christian. I’m always amused by non-Palestinian who offer us their “expertise” on the Palestinian phenomenon without having any idea of what they’re saying.
Obviously you have ignored the core of her claim. “historic Palestine” means the whole area from the river to the sea. Possibly even Jordan. This means, no land for the Jews.
Sure that’s what it means. Typical trying to claim everything is antisemitic nonsense to avoid actual criticism directed at a military occupation.
@ Jen: Now you’re claiming to know what Banksy was thinking? Based on what? On your deft linguistic analysis? Your friendship with Banksy? Or based on nothing (much more likely).
Israeli soldiers came to the West Bank in 1967. That is clearly what Banksy meant: they came in 1967 and “never left.”
Also, the poster is to some degree modeled on old Jewish AGency posters promoting tourism to what was then called Palestine. Like this:
Art is meant to be interpreted by the viewers.
But your hypocrisy is shocking. You interpret people in all you blogs posts. Heck, you interpreted in this post a woman you didn’t know exist based on a single article.
Similar thing with Soros – most would agree he is left but for you, anything right of Barni is alt-right. You excel in labeling people but as soon as someone give a title to someone which you disagree (or god forbid label you) you go furious.
No Richard just points out the hypocrisy of hasbarists and don’t let them fill his comment pages unchallenged.
@ Jen: Art is meant to be viewed and interpreted by viewers, not idiots. The interpretation of art offered by hasbarists and billionaire oligarchs isn’t worth dreck. And interpreting the written word, as I do here, is different than interpreting art. Ofer didn’t interpret art. She offered a propaganda version that had nothing to do with the actual image Banksy created. Her interpretation was a figment of her own fevered imagination.
No one agrees that Soros is a “leftist” except you, Bibi Netanyahu, Viktor Orban and Donald Trump (and those who are their devotees, like you). But you’re all lumpen alt-right, so that’s not surprising.
Why can’t a multi-millionaire be leftist? Isn’t Gates? Soros?
A multimillionaire who avoids paying taxes doesn’t sound like a leftist.
@ Jen: Bill Gates is a “leftist?” Are you daft? You don’t have a clue. But I suppose being a Kahanist means that anyone to the left of Hitler is a leftist. Nor is Soros a “leftist.” He a standard European liberal. Liberal is not “leftist,” again unless you’re a fascist, which you appear to be.
Not to mention that the Ofers are not “multi-millionaires.” They are billionaires. And oligarchs as well. I’ve never ever heard of an oligarch being a leftist.
Notice how even in their lies the Zionists are unwilling to concede equality to their subjects. ‘Druze,; Christians,’ ‘Muslims,’ are all identified by their religion — with no necessary claim to the land. Jews are not Jews but ‘Israelis’ — and hence implicitly granted sole title to ‘Israel.’
I think this as much as anything is what inflames me about Zionism — the incessant mendacity. In this case, all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
I also find it funny that Palestinian, Muslim, and Christian are separate catagories. Can’t Palestinians be Muslims, Christians, and atheists or whatever else they want?
Zionism is the crazy uncle that brooks no dissent and constantly demands flattery.
They act like a poster has insulted the honor of the Zahal and the “Border” Troops, which is like saying filthy bumperstickers make angels cry. When the Israeli military is made truly miserable, that’s when the missiles fly.