An Israeli artist, Itay Zalait, spent two months putting together a life-size statue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before placing it in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. Apparently, with this, he aimed to test the “freedom of expression” in his country.
Artists have been involved in a “culture war” with the Israeli government after Culture Minister Miri Regev took steps to withhold state funds from institutions that do not express loyalty to the state.
She dubbed the statue as an “expression of hatred towards Netanyahu.”
While some people gathered around the 13-foot idol to take pictures, protesters soon appeared at the scene and used sticks and stones to knock the figure down. They debated whether the form of art had been set up as a mockery of Netanyahu or homage to the right-wing politician.
The artist was ordered by Tel Aviv municipal officials to remove the statue, and warned that he would be fined if he refused to do so.
"Many people in Israel refer to Benjamin Netanyahu as 'the King Bibi' so it was only natural to put the king on the Square of the Kings, the previous name of Rabin Square. I just want to ask the question like to see if it's going to make some change in the people's mind,” Zalait told the Associated Press.
Zalait's art also led to political reactions as opposition figures called it a witty form of protest against Netanyahu's lengthy rule.
Critics have often questioned whether Netanyahu’s lavish lifestyle is supported by state funds, but the prime minister and his wife, Sara, have denied any misuse of taxpayers' money.