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Banksy’s bold statement on Syrian refugees

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World-famous British artist Banksy made a bold statement about refugees in his latest artwork depicting Steve Jobs, the visionary CEO and cofounder of Apple, spray painted on a wall near “The Jungle” refugee camp outside the port city of Calais in northern France. Simply titled “the son of a migrant from Syria” on his website, a close-up of Jobs’s face adorns the homepage. Jobs was the biological son of Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian who migrated to the U.S. from Homs.

Close up of Steve Jobs face in "the son of a migrant from Syria" -Artwork by Banksy

Banksy close-up of Steve Jobs’ face. Titled “the son of a migrant from Syria” -Artwork by Banksy

Banksy’s depiction of Jobs as a refugee, carrying a duffle bag in one hand and what appears to be an early model of an Apple computer in the other, is a stark reminder not to judge refugees based on preconceived, racist notions about who you think they are, or what their capabilities are, for one individual could end up changing our world in inconceivable ways.


Reportedly, the Jobs piece has garnered so much notoriety some of the refugees have taken to covering up the image attempting to profit off the artwork. Reportedly, a crew from RT arrived to document Banksy’s project and were charged a fee for a viewing:

When an RT crew approached the wall, refugees quickly covered the graffiti with a cloth. “We are guarding this area,” they told RT’s Polly Boyko.

“Guys, you don’t own this. I’m a journalist, and it’s my job,” the reporter said.

Would you care to guess the refugees’ answer?

Yes, bet this was your first option: “Pay money – we’ll show you.”

"The Jungle refugee camp, Calais" Photo: Banksy

“The Jungle refugee camp, Calais” Photo: Banksy

Banksy’s Dismaland art exhibit/”bemusement” park, created by 58 global artists, originally opened in the UK last summer. It’s since been broken down with sections transferred to Calais’s Jungle camp, transformed into shelters for asylum seekers. Since September twelve dwellings, a community area and children’s park have been completed.

Reconstructing dwellings from Dismaland in Jungle Camp, Calais, France Photo: Dismaland

Reconstructing dwellings from Dismaland in Jungle Camp, Calais, France Photo: Dismaland

Banksy’s website features more refugee themed street art, one titled “Calais town centre“. A closeup posted in this tweet:

Calais lies across the English Channel from Folkestone, near Dover, the primary crossing point between France and England via the Channel TunnelReportedly 6,000 migrants are currently living in Jungle camp, many trying to reach the UK, a desirable destination for refugees because the UK has pledged to resettle 20,000 refugees over the next five years. But according to the Independent the British government is “only taking asylum seekers from UN camps in countries surrounding Syria, and not from “hotspots” like Calais.”

Calais, France - Photo: Banksy

Calais, France – Photo: Banksy

Local news La Voix Du Nord (The voice of the North) reported yesterday, on December 17, hundreds of refugees storming a road leading to the Channel Tunnel crossing attempting to hitch rides on lorries heading to the UK, causing traffic to come to a standstill. Police used tear gas to disperse them. 

A video from Jungle camp:

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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17 Responses

  1. annie on December 17, 2015, 3:25 pm

    i love banksy. i forgot to say that ;) and incorporating Jobs into this latest project was a brilliant move as was transferring parts of dismaland to jungle camp.

  2. Bumblebye on December 17, 2015, 7:07 pm

    To see much more, go to fb page Banksy.
    There’s an AJ+ interview with Carlos Latuff he postd on 30 Aug. (He’s not an excessively prolific poster so it won’t take long to find it.)

  3. just on December 18, 2015, 7:32 am

    Thanks so much for this, Annie.

    Here’s something from someone else that I respect a lot, Mohammad Javad Zarif :

    “Peace in Syria is vital. And it’s within our grasp

    Syrians must be allowed to determine their own fate, free from the interference of those set on promoting a petro-fuelled perversion of Islam

    The International Syria Support Group has provided a unique forum for important discussions among a number of significant players, and there is genuine potential to turn the existing political will to help forge peace into tangible action towards this noble end.

    Focus must turn to the political process, and the imperative of a unified front against extremist violence. Yet progress continues to be hindered by preconditions which have prolonged the violence and bloodshed for four years. Indeed, what is most ironic and distressing about these preconditions is that they do not represent the wishes of the Syrian people; rather, they reflect the agendas of outside actors, none of whom have the right to impose their will on an independent nation.

    The Syrian people do not need guardians. The age of mandates and protectorates is long gone. It is utterly absurd that those who have denied their own population the most rudimentary tenets of democracy, such as a constitution and elections, are now self-declared champions of democracy in Syria. Their democracy, however, is not to give Syrians a voice, but instead to thwart the political process by stonewalling a ceasefire, while pushing for self-proclaimed al-Qaida affiliates to have a prominent place at the negotiating table.

    Indeed, it is alarming that some are oblivious to how bands of villains such as Isis or al-Qaida’s multiple incarnations and reincarnations are a common threat to all of us, including their patrons. It is delusional to believe that sponsoring these terrorists, directly or through their newborn ideological siblings, can ever be an asset or leverage to achieve even short-term political objectives. Yet those who support militant extremism are not only continuing to do so, but they sponsor terror with impunity. They even use their political patronages and web of lobbyists to seek to legitimise such assistance, and its recipients, by differentiating between “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists”.

    Beyond slaughtering countless innocents, the hooded villains have proven that while terrorism has no religion, no nationality or ethnic background, it certainly has backers with known addresses and horrific agendas. Ask Syrians. Or Iraqis, who during the past 12 years have been the target of almost 2,000 suicide bombings. The perpetrators of these atrocities, and those who created carnage in New York, London, Madrid, Peshawar, Beirut, Tunis, Paris and San Bernardino … have one common thread. They were all radicalised by demagogues preaching the same petro-fuelled perversion of Islam.

    What happened in New York that fateful September morning 14 years ago, and the response, is directly linked to the tragedies in Paris, Beirut and San Bernardino during the past few weeks. Despite its immense cost of hundreds of thousands of lives and more than $400tn, the so-called “war on terror” has failed to achieve its purported objective. The perverted ideology behind groups such as al-Qaida not only lives, but thrives. It has spawned ever more vile manifestations of raw hatred and open thirst for blood. Hooded villains are now ravaging the cradle of civilization.

    Terrorists should never have been allowed to set the agenda, or dictate the response. These villains are the offspring of indiscriminate retribution, failure to unite in confronting the roots of terrorism, and continued impunity extended to those so-called allies who perceive extremism as an asset or leverage. We must all recognise that security cannot be achieved at the expense of the insecurity of others. Unless there is a serious change in the course of action, violent extremism will haunt us all, including the hands that feed it.

    Make no mistake: for the past four years, Syria has been ground zero in nothing short of a paramount fight for our future. I say “our” – repeating the theme of a recent message by Ayatollah Khamenei, who called the menace of perverted extremism “our common worry” – because the world’s fate is common. No one is immune from the consequences of the outcome of the existential battle that we need to fight.

    From the outset of the Syrian crisis, Iran’s position has rested on three pillars: respect for the wishes and free will of the Syrian nation to decide its own destiny and to manage its own affairs; opposition to foreign interference geared to impose the wishes of outside actors on an independent people; and rejection of terrorism as a tool to achieve political objectives.

    Based on these pillars, Iran has always insisted that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis. Only ballots – not bullets – can ultimately usher in a new era in Syria. To this end, Iran has consistently advocated an immediate ceasefire and an end to the bloodshed; dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition groups who reject terrorism; a concerted and genuine international effort to uproot extremist violence; and a global campaign to address the humanitarian catastrophe now, and to rebuild Syria once the flames of war subside.

    The International Syria Support Group should encourage, facilitate and enable Syrians to change the course of their future, and by extension, change the course of our collective future. To do so, all must join hands to put into effect an immediate end to the bloodshed and vigorously focus on promoting an inclusive intra-Syrian political process, bringing together all Syrians with a vested interest in a brighter tomorrow. We must close ranks in the fight against extremist violence and terror, while not allowing rage to come in the way of collective reflection and wisdom for a rational and joint response.

    Most importantly, we must together work to confront the roots of extremist violence, including double standards, marginalisation, repression, xenophobia and Islamophobia. If not, our children, and their children, will be forced to. And at much greater cost.”

    Bansky and Latuff tell the truth with their art.

    Zarif lets it all out with the spoken/written word.

    • annie on December 18, 2015, 10:05 pm

      thank you just. i don’t know how i missed your comment (this article) earlier today. zarif is so …. right on. did you see

    • Theo on December 22, 2015, 8:40 am

      The syrian emigrates refuse to negotiate with Assad, forgetting that he has the support of the alevits, christians and other minority groups, together a large percentage of the syrian population and most influencial groups.
      As long as he is not invited, there will be no peace in that country, he has powerful supporters and the war is turning to his advantage, thanks to the bombing of Russia and the NATO.

      • annie on December 22, 2015, 9:27 am

        The syrian emigrates refuse to negotiate with Assad

        could you elaborate?

      • Theo on December 22, 2015, 12:44 pm

        Yes, Annie

        According to a recent report that I read and heard in several sources, negotiations are already so good as set up, however the representives of the so called Free Syria, (or whatever they call themselves), refused to sit down at a table with Assad.
        As long as this doesn´t change, there will be no peace in Syria, as Assad holds the power, even now.

      • annie on December 22, 2015, 2:09 pm

        the representives of the so called Free Syria, (or whatever they call themselves), refused to sit down at a table with Assad.

        oh, them. the emigrants the US cobbled together to form some alternate syrian congress and what not. not much different than they did in iraq q/chalabi etc. i thought you were referencing all the syrian regugees flooding out of syria. because i really doubt they are all of one mind and many are running from isis/nusra. never mind!

  4. wfleitz on December 18, 2015, 10:14 am

    “what appears to be an early model of an Apple computer…”

    Has it been that long? He’s carrying the original Macintosh computer introduced by the classic Orwell “1984” ad that was played during the Superbowl.

    • annie on December 18, 2015, 10:07 pm

      hey thanks wfleitz. i was a late bloomer. was computer illiterate til a few years into this century.

      • wfleitz on December 19, 2015, 5:00 pm

        I’m pretty old so I actually remember watching this commercial in my early 20s. It was around the same time I read Chomsky’s seminal work “The Fateful Triangle” and was becoming aware of the P/I conflict.

        Thanks for all you do. I’ll continue to support MW as much as I am able.

  5. talknic on December 19, 2015, 5:43 am

    Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2254 (2015), Endorsing Road Map for Peace Process in Syria, Setting Timetable for Talks


    The full text of resolution 2254 (2015) reads as follows:

    “The Security Council,

    “Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2170 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2178 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2235 (2015), and 2249 (2015) and Presidential Statements of 3 August 2011 (S/PRST/2011/16), 21 March 2012 (S/PRST/2012/6), 5 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/10), 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15), 24 April 2015 (S/PRST/2015/10) and 17 August 2015 (S/PRST/2015/15),

    “Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

    “Expressing its gravest concern at the continued suffering of the Syrian people, the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation, the ongoing conflict and its persistent and brutal violence, the negative impact of terrorism and violent extremist ideology in support of terrorism, the destabilizing effect of the crisis on the region and beyond, including the resulting increase in terrorists drawn to the fighting in Syria, the physical destruction in the country, and increasing sectarianism, and underscoring that the situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution,

    “Recalling its demand that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians, including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities, and stresses that, in this regard, the primary responsibility to protect its population lies with the Syrian authorities,

    “Reiterating that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 as endorsed by resolution 2118 (2013), including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions,

    “Encouraging, in this regard, the diplomatic efforts of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to help bring an end to the conflict in Syria,

    “Commending the commitment of the ISSG, as set forth in the Joint Statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria in Vienna of 30 October 2015 and the Statement of the ISSG of 14 November 2015 (hereinafter the “Vienna Statements”), to ensure a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué in its entirety, and emphasizing the urgency for all parties in Syria to work diligently and constructively towards this goal,

    “Urging all parties to the UN-facilitated political process to adhere to the principles identified by the ISSG, including commitments to Syria’s unity, independence, territorial integrity, and non-sectarian character, to ensuring continuity of governmental institutions, to protecting the rights of all Syrians, regardless of ethnicity or religious denomination, and to ensuring humanitarian access throughout the country,

    “Encouraging the meaningful participation of women in the UN-facilitated political process for Syria,

    “Bearing in mind the goal to bring together the broadest possible spectrum of the opposition, chosen by Syrians, who will decide their negotiation representatives and define their negotiation positions so as to enable the political process to begin, taking note of the meetings in Moscow and Cairo and other initiatives to this end, and noting in particular the usefulness of the meeting in Riyadh on 9-11 December 2015, whose outcomes contribute to the preparation of negotiations under UN auspices on a political settlement of the conflict, in accordance with the Geneva Communique and the “Vienna Statements”, and looking forward to the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria finalizing efforts to this end,

    “1. Reconfirms its endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, endorses the “Vienna Statements” in pursuit of the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, as the basis for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition in order to end the conflict in Syria, and stresses that the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria;

    “2. Requests the Secretary-General, through his good offices and the efforts of his Special Envoy for Syria, to convene representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to engage in formal negotiations on a political transition process on an urgent basis, with a target of early January 2016 for the initiation of talks, pursuant to the Geneva Communiqué, consistent with the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement, with a view to a lasting political settlement of the crisis;

    “3. Acknowledges the role of the ISSG as the central platform to facilitate the United Nations’ efforts to achieve a lasting political settlement in Syria;

    “4. Expresses its support, in this regard, for a Syrian-led political process that is facilitated by the United Nations and, within a target of six months, establishes credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and sets a schedule and process for drafting a new constitution, and further expresses its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under supervision of the United Nations, to the satisfaction of the governance and to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;

    “5. Acknowledges the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process, pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, and that both initiatives should move ahead expeditiously, and in this regard expresses its support for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, which the ISSG has committed to support and assist in implementing, to come into effect as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps towards a political transition under UN auspices, on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement, and to do so on an urgent basis;

    “6. Requests the Secretary-General to lead the effort, through the office of his Special Envoy and in consultation with relevant parties, to determine the modalities and requirements of a ceasefire as well as continue planning for the support of ceasefire implementation, and urges Member States, in particular members of the ISSG, to support and accelerate all efforts to achieve a ceasefire, including through pressing all relevant parties to agree and adhere to such a ceasefire;

    “7. Emphasizes the need for a ceasefire monitoring, verification and reporting mechanism, requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on options for such a mechanism that it can support, as soon as possible and no later than one month after the adoption of this resolution, and encourages Member States, including members of the Security Council, to provide assistance, including through expertise and in-kind contributions, to support such a mechanism;

    “8. Reiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the ISSG and determined by the Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the ISSG of 14 November 2015, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;

    “9. Welcomes the effort that was conducted by the government of Jordan to help develop a common understanding within the ISSG of individuals and groups for possible determination as terrorists and will consider expeditiously the recommendation of the ISSG for the purpose of determining terrorist groups;

    “10. Emphasizes the need for all parties in Syria to take confidence building measures to contribute to the viability of a political process and a lasting ceasefire, and calls on all states to use their influence with the government of Syria and the Syrian opposition to advance the peace process, confidence building measures and steps towards a ceasefire;

    “11. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council, as soon as possible and no later than one month after the adoption of this resolution, on options for further confidence building measures;

    “12. Calls on the parties to immediately allow humanitarian agencies rapid, safe and unhindered access throughout Syria by most direct routes, allow immediate, humanitarian assistance to reach all people in need, in particular in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, release any arbitrarily detained persons, particularly women and children, calls on ISSG states to use their influence immediately to these ends, and demands the full implementation of resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014) and any other applicable resolutions;

    “13. Demands that all parties immediately cease any attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such, including attacks against medical facilities and personnel, and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment, welcomes the commitment by the ISSG to press the parties in this regard, and further demands that all parties immediately comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law as applicable;

    “14. Underscores the critical need to build conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their home areas and the rehabilitation of affected areas, in accordance with international law, including applicable provisions of the Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and taking into account the interests of those countries hosting refugees, urges Member States to provide assistance in this regard, looks forward to the London Conference on Syria in February 2016, hosted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Kuwait, Norway and the United Nations, as an important contribution to this endeavour, and further expresses its support to the post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation of Syria;

    “15. Requests that the Secretary-General report back to the Security Council on the implementation of this resolution, including on progress of the UN-facilitated political process, within 60 days;

    “16. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

    • talknic on December 19, 2015, 7:35 am

      From the resolution

      ““Reiterating that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 as endorsed by resolution 2118 (2013), including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions “

      What if they elect Assad?

      UNSC res 2118 “Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic,”

      Same as the UNSC said of Lebanon UNSC Res 1701

      UNSC res 2118 Cntd …

      “Stressing that the only solution to the current crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process based on the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012, and emphasising the need to convene the international conference on Syria as soon as possible “

      No article prevents Syria from accepting conventional weapons from its allies to arm state sanctioned Syrian forces. Similar to what the UNSC said of Lebanon (ibid)

      • just on December 19, 2015, 9:13 am

        Thank you, talknic.

        I just read this from Reuters at Haaretz:

        “As UN Endorses Syria Plan, Obama Says Assad Will Probably Have to Go

        United Nations Security Council reaches resolution on Syria, but makes no mention of Assad; Obama also signs into law new tougher sanctions against Hezbollah.

        REUTERS –  President Barack Obama said Syrian President Bashar Assad “has lost (his) legitimacy” and will have to “leave,” as the UN Security Council approved a resolution outlining a peace process for Syria involving talks by representatives of the Damascus government and the opposition, but said nothing on the critical issue of what role Assad will play.

        “I think that Assad is going to have to leave in order for the country to stop the bloodletting and for all the parties to be able to move forward in a non-sectarian way. He has lost legitimacy,” Obama said.

        The president said diplomats need to find a way to create a political transition that allows Assad’s allies like Russia and Iran to ensure “that their equities are respected” in Syria.

        The UN resolution acknowledges that the peace process will not end the conflict because it bars “terrorist groups” operating in the country, including the Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front, from participating in a cease-fire.

        Obama has trod carefully around the subject, and though for years he has demanded Assad resign, no political transition has ever been agreed upon, and Russia’s move to defend Assad has complicated diplomatic efforts to find a way for Assad to give up power and resolve the country’s civil war.

        Obama has drawn fire on his approach to Syria from Republican presidential candidates who say he has left a leadership vacuum that Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to fill.

        On Friday, Obama also signed into law legislation that increases sanctions on Hezbollah, the White House said.

        “This strong, bipartisan bill intensifies pressure against the Hezbollah terrorist organization and provides the administration additional tools with which to target Hezbollah’s financial lifeblood,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.

        Obama appeared in the White House press briefing room for a year-end news conference and talked tough about the prospects of defeating Islamic State militants who control broad swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. …”

        read more:

        It’s always a hoot to hear folks talk about “legitimacy”, isn’t it? Oh yeah, we create and support the bad guys and then turn around and sanction Hezbollah!

        Then there’s this from the article:

        … “The draft also says cease-fire efforts should move forward in parallel with the talks, and it asks Ban to report within a month of the resolution’s adoption on a way to monitor the cease-fire.

        The draft notes that the cease-fire “will not apply to offensive or defensive actions” against groups considered terrorist organizations, meaning that airstrikes by Russia, France and the U.S.-led coalition apparently would not be affected.” …

        read more:

        It’s mind- bending.

        Then I wandered over to Taxi’s site and found this stunning piece:

        “Micro News from Syria by Taxi”

        It’s awesome journalism and analysis.

      • Theo on December 22, 2015, 8:28 am

        “Obama says Assad probably has to go”

        Wenn will we learn that we have no rights to topple the governments of other nations, only the syrians have the right to replace Assad!
        Should they decide to try and hang him, it is OK with me, he deserved it a long time ago.

  6. inbound39 on December 20, 2015, 5:50 am

    Hezbollah will not bat an eyelid at Obama’s ridiculous moves against it. Similar moves should have been forthcoming against Israel by Obama long ago. Hezbollah has Iran and Russia to cushion it and ensure its financial continuity.

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