The infamous British graffiti artist known as Banksy opened in Bethlehem several years ago a propaganda-themed hotel. Now, he’s using it to push the Palestinian nationalist cause by effectively making a mockery of Jesus.
A Nativity scene set up by Banksy to mark Christmas depicts Joseph and Mary huddled around Jesus’ manger against the backdrop of Israel’s concrete security wall scarred by a mortar or tank shell strike to form what resembles the “Christmas star.”
First, and this bears repeating as often as possible, the concrete wall highlighted by Banksy and so many other pro-Palestinian activists was not erected arbitrarily to harm the residents of Bethlehem. It was reluctantly constructed in the early 2000s because Bethlehem was being used as a launching-off point for Palestinian suicide bombers targeting the Jewish population of neighboring Jerusalem.
But Banksy and his ilk like to sidestep that inconvenient fact.
Second, this Nativity scene, like so many set up in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories, suggestively disassociates Jesus from his people, the Jews of Israel. Here, Jesus becomes a symbol of Palestinian “liberation.”
Finally, and most importantly, Jesus did not come to solve or be made the poster child of any national conflict or agenda. Not even those of Israel (Acts 1:6). He came to offer atonement and to put man right with God. That foundational element of Jesus’ mission is clearly missing from Banksy’s display and the message it aims to disseminate.
Appropriating the birth of Jesus to serve a narrow nationalist agenda (especially one that demonizes the Messiah’s own people) is no better than propagating the modern notion that the holiday is about nothing more than a fat man in a red suit passing out gifts.