Israeli artist takes aim at Netanyahu with life-size statue

Israeli artist takes aim at Netanyahu with life-size statue
Israel Netanyahu Statue

Residents of Tel Aviv have woken up to a pop-up exhibit depicting a life-size statue of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoying a lavish meal by himself in a mock re-enactment of the Last Supper.

Artist Itay Zalait’s installation, displayed in Tel Aviv’s central Rabin Square, is the latest twist in a summer of demonstrations against Mr Netanyahu.

In recent weeks, thousands of people have taken to the streets, calling on Mr Netanyahu to resign over what they say is his bungled response to an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, and characterising him as a hedonist out of touch with common people.

The installation depicts Mr Netanyahu as dining alone in a mock re-enactment of The Last Supper (AP)

Many critics accuse him of trampling over Israel’s democratic traditions as he clings to power while he is on trial for corruption charges and pushes for emergency powers under the guise of battling the pandemic.

In an interview earlier this week from his studio outside Tel Aviv, Mr Zalait said the installation, made of polymer materials and painted in lively colours, is meant to symbolise the “last supper of the Israeli democracy”.

The 32ft long table is filled with platters of juicy fruit, wads of cash, empty bottles of liquor and a cigar – a jab at the expensive gifts Mr Netanyahu is accused of improperly accepting from wealthy associates.

Team members of Israeli artist Itay Zalait work on the statue (AP)

The Israeli leader, who appears pudgy and dishevelled in a dark suit and red tie, is seen digging into a large cake. The figure is alone amid 12 empty chairs.

Mr Zalait said of his creation: “You have the prime minister of Israel sitting in the centre of the table and grabbing and sucking all this rich food to himself.

“Now he’s practically finished this meal and he’s now at the stage of the dessert, which is referring to the last minutes of time we can do something to save Israeli democracy.”

The artwork was placed at Rabin square in Tel Aviv (AP)

Mr Zalait said he found the imagery particularly poignant at a time when unemployment has skyrocketed and tens of thousands of families are struggling because of the coronavirus restrictions that have battered Israel’s economy.

It is not the first time Zalait has taken to life-size art to express his opinion.

Two years ago, he erected a statue of Israel’s then-culture minister, Miri Regev, wearing a long white dress and staring into a full-length mirror.

The depiction was meant to protest against Mr Regev’s calls for legislation requiring artists to show “loyalty” to the state.

Before that, he built a golden statue of Mr Netanyahu to mock what he said was the idolatry of many Israelis toward the longtime leader.

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