Israeli artist points to Netanyahu with life-size statue

TEL AVIV, Israel – Tel Aviv city residents woke up Wednesday to a jarring site: a pop-up exhibit depicting a life-size statue of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoying a luxurious meal alone at a table in a mockery recreation of the Last Supper.

On display in Tel Aviv’s central Rabin Square, the installation is the latest twist in a summer of protests against Netanyahu. In the past few weeks, thousands of people have taken to the streets, asking Netanyahu to resign, angry at what they say is a mistake. response to an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus and which describes him as a hedonist out of contact with ordinary people.

Many critics accuse him of trampling on Israel’s democratic traditions while clinging to power while on trial on corruption charges and pressing for emergency powers under the guise of fighting the coronavirus crisis.

In an interview earlier this week from his studio outside Tel Aviv, artist Itay Zalait said the installation, made of polymeric materials and painted in bright colors, symbolizes the “Last Supper of Israeli democracy.”

The 11-yard long table is littered with juicy fruit plates, wads of cash, empty liquor bottles, and a cigar, a prick to the expensive gifts Netanyahu is accused of wrongfully accepting of wealthy partners. Netanyahu, looking plump and scruffy in a dark suit and red tie, is seen digging into a large cake, alone in the midst of 12 empty chairs.

“You have the Prime Minister of Israel sitting at the center of the table and grabbing and sucking all this delicious food for himself. Now this meal is practically over and it is now in the dessert stage, which refers to the last few minutes of time that we can do something to save Israeli democracy, “Zalait said.

Zalait said he found the images particularly poignant at a time when unemployment has soared and tens of thousands of families are struggling due to coronavirus restrictions that have affected Israel’s economy.

It is not the first time that Zalait has turned to life-size art to express his opinion. Two years ago, he erected a statue of Israel’s then Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, in a long white dress and looking into a full-length mirror. The performance was intended to protest Regev’s calls for legislation requiring artists to demonstrate “loyalty” to the state.

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