An Israeli Collector Accuses Banksy of Spreading ‘Antisemitic Propaganda’

The philanthropist Batia Ofer has decried a satirical pro-Palestine poster that the artist is giving out in London.

Photo: banksy.co.uk

The London-based Israeli art collector Batia Ofer has accused Banksy of anti-Semitism after the famed street artist shared a satirical pro-Palestine poster on Instagram.

The poster depicts children using a war-damaged watchtower as an amusement-park ride and includes the slogan “Visit historic Palestine” followed by the tagline “The Israeli army liked it so much they never left!” On Tuesday a limited number of the posters were handed out at a booth that Banksy hired at the London’s World Travel Market, a trade show for travel agents.

The artist’s latest work earned praise from the Palestinian tourism minister Rula Maayah, who is a fan of his Walled Off Hotel installation on the West Bank. “The way he delivers things is different from other people,” she told The National. “He promotes Palestine and focuses on the occupation, but at the same time he is talking about the beauty of Palestine.”

But Ofer, a philanthropist who sits on the international council of Sotheby’s (where Banksy recently pulled off a celebrated coup de theatre by shredding one of his artworks as it was being auctioned), took to social media to denounce the poster on both the artist’s Instagram and her own.

“You may criticize Israel for the current situation—and I’m totally for a two-state solution and fight for justice on both sides,” she wrote in a post. “BUT insinuating we don’t have a right to exist… 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.”

Ofer shared an altered image by Israeli artist Erez Safar with a caption that said “Visit Historic Israel… All are welcome to the only democracy in the Middle East,” and tagged each of the children on the poster with the labels “LGBTQ, Israeli, Muslim, Druze, Palestinian, and Christian.”

In a separate post she explained “If the Israeli army ‘never left’ what is considered Israel sovereign territory, obviously Israel has no right to exist and there should be no Jewish homeland. This is ultimately antisemitic propaganda.”

Ofer and her husband, the Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, are known for their progressive, left-leaning views on the ongoing conflict, and are prominent supporters of the two-state solution who have donated money to a number of causes promoting Israeli-Palestinian relations. These include an annual scholarship to pay for two Palestinian and two Israeli students to study at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

“We are very pro-peace,” Batia Ofer told the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz in an email. “But having said that—I will stand up for our right to exist when people try to incite against us.”


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