The Guardian came up with this headline last week: Bethlehem residents vandalize Banksy graffiti. That’s a very interesting use of the word “vandalize.” Is it too soon to play the race card? What if the graffiti “artist” had been some unknown teenager, and the wall in question the side of the Guardian’s offices? Somehow I doubt the people footing the cleaning bill then would have been branded “vandals”.
Go read the story though, because it gets richer. Banksy (who by the way is definitely an artist—not just a vandal—and well worth checking out) had decided to portray the plight of the Palestinians by spray painting walls in the occupied Palestine state. For this he used symbols that turned out to be insulting to Palestinians. Well, these things happen. But how does the Guardian frame this? Stupid Palestinian not understanding Western irony:
But the irony behind the depiction of an Israeli soldier checking a donkey’s identity papers was lost on some residents, who found it offensive.
“We’re humans here, not donkeys,” said Nasri Canavati, a restaurateur. “This is insulting. I’m glad it was painted over.”
Interestingly, the Guardian’s palpable disdain is not actually present in the article, it just seems that way. Yes, one restaurateur misunderstands an easy to misunderstand joke considering the very real tensions between the Palestinians and their occupiers — the joke being that Israelis even mistrust donkeys at checkpoints. Others understand the joke though, and even think it’s funny. But the upside-down-world headline primes the reader for only one possible reading of the article. I am beginning to feel sorry for the reporter, who probably did not even write the headline.