This hook investigates events during the First World War that have influenced the current situation in Israel/Palestine.
Modern day Israel/Palestine lies in a region formerly occupied by the Ottoman Empire. When the First World War ended in 1918, fighting ceased between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies. During the war, Britain had made different commitment to different groups. For example, in 1917 a declaration called the Balfour Declaration expressed support for the Jewish people to return to Palestine. However, in 1915, letters between the Sharif of Mecca and the British High Commissioner in Egypt had led Arab people to believe that they would be given back Turkish-occupied land in the same region. In the end, it was the British who assumed control over Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia (Iraq).
The conflicting promises made by Britain during the First World War have contributed to the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine today.
Graffiti artist Banksy created this mural of an armoured peace dove in Palestine at a site where over 40 Palestinians were killed during a Palestinian uprising against Israeli oppression. The uprising is called the First Intifada (intifada means to “shrug off”) and took place between 1987 and 1991. Many young Palestinians participated in the struggle by throwing stones or rocks at Israeli soldiers.
Banksy also painted several images along a wall Israel is constructing around the occupied Palestinian territories. On his website he raised the question whether it is illegal to vandalise a wall that the International Court of Justice has deemed to be unlawful.
Possible discussion questions
What do you know about the situation in Israel/Palestine today? How do you think historical events should be considered when choosing how to respond to the situation there?
What are the implications of changing boundaries in a region? What might happen if New Zealand was divided into two countries, with one country far more powerful than the other?
Why do you think Banksy painted the mural of the armoured dove? How effective is this type of response to a complex political situation?
How and why might Bansky’s artwork be viewed in different ways?