This postcard by British street artist Banksy may be several years old, but it has the power to strike a chord even today; and may continue to do so for some time to come.
In his own rebellious way, Banksy turned what may have been a conventional Biblical landscape painting into something thought-provoking. The painting shows Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem, but unable to reach their destination due to the Israeli West Bank barrier.
With the current state of affairs in the Middle East, the resurfacing of this image was bound to create a furor.
The text on the card reads, “The people of Bethlehem are asking for our help.”
Many feel that Israel is strangling Bethlehem by encircling it with tightly controlled walls and fences. Critics have slammed the Jewish state for turning the holy city into a prison for its Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens.
According to the Gospels, the city of Bethlehem, located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem, is the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is a thorny one, to put it mildly, peppered with decades of mistrust and violence.
Recently though, there are signs of Arabs and Israelis moving gradually towards greater cultural cooperation.
Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tantrums and the constant political crossfire, there have been incidences of Israel helping the people of Palestine during the recent snowstorm and floods. They sent pumps and established a joint command center with Palestinian security in the West Bank to handle storm-related traffic and electricity problems.
Read More: Peace Talks: Is Israel Shooting Itself In the Foot?
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement that the Palestinians do not support a boycott of Israel may have infuriated many, but his words ‘we have relations’are more poignant than any recent statements by either him or Netanyahu.
It seems the people on both sides, sick and tired of the political conflict, are not willing to let the politicians be the masters of their fate anymore. They want peace and are willing to put the past behind them and coexist peacefully.
One such example is the film Bethlehem, which was directed by Yuval Adler, an Israeli, and written by Palestinian journalist Ali Waked. It not only won a prize at the Venice Film Festival, but many hearts too.
So the fact that this postcard has emerged after so many years may be a sign that Arab-Israel relations are reaching a point where change is imminent. We hope the change is for the better.