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Politically Charged Nativity Scene Appears in Bethlehem

A Banksy piece is displayed at the Walled Off Hotel
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2019 3:30 PM CST
A new artwork dubbed "Scar of Bethlehem" by the artist Banksy is displayed in The Walled Off Hotel, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019.   (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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(Newser) – The mysterious street artist known as Banksy has displayed a politically charged Nativity scene in Bethlehem, the town revered as Jesus' birthplace, just in time for the busy Christmas season, the AP reports. The artwork, named "Scar of Bethlehem," depicts the birth of Jesus under Israel's West Bank separation barrier with a bullet hole shaped like a star. The piece is displayed at the "Walled Off Hotel," a Palestinian guesthouse in Bethlehem that was designed by Banksy and is filled with his artwork. Wisam Salsaa, the hotel manager, says the British artist recently sent the new piece to the hotel. "We see there is a scar," he said. "A hole on the wall marks the wall and the life in Bethlehem."

The hotel, which overlooks the separation barrier, sarcastically boasts "the worst view in the world." Since its opening in 2017, it has become a popular tourist draw. "Banksy is trying to remind the world that people of Bethlehem, where Christmas was started, are not celebrating Christmas like the rest of the world," he said. Israel built the barrier in the early 2000s in what it said was a move to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers in the West Bank from reaching Israel. The Palestinians consider the barrier illegal and call it an Israeli land grab, noting that it has engulfed large chunks of the West Bank onto the Israeli "side." Bethlehem has been affected especially hard by the barrier, which surrounds large parts of the city.

(Read more Israel and Palestinians stories.)

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