Israeli artist Itay Zalait installed a golden statue of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, in Rabin Square outside City Hall in Tel Aviv earlier this week, which was taken down after the artist called on the public to “topple Netanyahu.”
Zalait trailed the installation to the press in the weeks leading up to installing the sculpture by releasing a statement claiming that he would “undertake a subversive artistic political act which will garner much media attention.”
Then on Tuesday, December 6, a large golden statue of Netanyahu—who has been dubbed “King Bibi” by some—appeared in the historic square along with a call on social media to “topple” him, Haaretz reported.
People flooded to Rabin Square to topple the golden statue, tore it down and carried it away.
“I did it to check one thing: can I do it?” Zalait told AFP. “Will this work be allowed and will there be sanctions?”
Artists in Israel have claimed they are being silenced by the state. In addition, the minister for culture Miri Regev has said in the past that she would restrict funding for projects with an anti-government message.
As yet there have been no repercussions for the artist.
“I am not waiting, but it is certainly intriguing,” Itay Zalait told Haaretz. “Will it lead to sanctions of one kind or another like in the cases of the Facebook post, after which somebody was put under arrest for four days?”
Despite many of the attendees being present to try and take down the statue, others saw the erection of the golden figure as a compliment. Critics of the stunt asked why the artist had not requested permission from the authorities.
“I am not sure the statue committee would have approved a statue of Bibi [Netanyahu] in the middle of Rabin Square,” he retorted.
A former city councilwoman, Yael Dayan, criticized Zalait for acting without a permit but added that the act was a “big middle finger in all our faces. Like [Netanyahu] is the king of Amona, he is the king of Tel Aviv. It shows Israelis that Tel Aviv too is under Netanyahu’s regime.”
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