Team members of Israeli artist Itay Zalait, work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" at Rabin square in Tel Aviv

Israeli artist takes aim at Netanyahu with life-size statue

Installation, depicting a disheveled premier in a mock re-enactment of the Last Supper and in Tel Aviv Rabin Square, is the latest twist in a summer of protests against the PM and his conduct

Associated Press |
Published: 07.29.20 , 09:40
Tel Aviv residents woke up Wednesday to a jarring site: a pop-up exhibit depicting a life-size statue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoying a lavish meal by himself at a sprawling table in a mock re-enactment of the Last Supper.
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  • The installation, displayed in the city's central Rabin Square, is the latest twist in a summer of demonstrations against Netanyahu. In recent weeks, thousands of people have taken to the streets, calling on Netanyahu to resign, angry over what they say is his bungled response to an economic crisis caused by the coronavirus and depicting him as a hedonist out of touch with common people.
    Team members of Israeli artist Itay Zalait, work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" at Rabin square in Tel Aviv Team members of Israeli artist Itay Zalait, work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" at Rabin square in Tel Aviv
    Team members of Israeli artist Itay Zalait, work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" at Rabin square in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AP)
    Many critics accuse him of trampling over the country's democratic traditions as he clings to power while on trial for corruption charges and pushes for emergency powers under the guise of battling the coronavirus crisis.
    In an interview earlier this week from his studio outside Tel Aviv, artist Itay Zalait said the installation, made of polymer materials and painted in lively colors, is meant to symbolize the “last supper of the Israeli democracy.”
    An installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" by Israeli artist Itay Zalait, is placed at Rabin square in Tel Aviv An installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" by Israeli artist Itay Zalait, is placed at Rabin square in Tel Aviv
    An installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" by Israeli artist Itay Zalait, is placed at Rabin square in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AP)
    The 10-meter (11-yard) 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 Netanyahu is accused of improperly accepting from wealthy associates. Netanyahu, appearing pudgy and disheveled in a dark suit and red tie, is seen digging into a large cake — alone amid 12 empty chairs.
    “You have the prime minister of Israel sitting in the center 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,” Zalait said.
    Israeli artist Itay Zalait, center, and his team work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" at his studio in Ramat Gan Israeli artist Itay Zalait, center, and his team work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" at his studio in Ramat Gan
    Israeli artist Itay Zalait, center, and his team work on an installation depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a mock "Last Supper" at his studio in Ramat Gan
    (Photo: AP)
    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.
    Itay Zalait's golden statue depiction of Prime Minister Netanyahu Itay Zalait's golden statue depiction of Prime Minister Netanyahu
    Itay Zalait's golden statue depiction of Prime Minister Netanyahu
    (Photo: AFP)
    It’s not the first time Zalait has taken to life-size art to express his opinion. Two years ago, he erected a statue of then-culture minister, Miri Regev, wearing a long white dress and staring into a full-length mirror. The depiction was meant to protest Regev’s calls for legislation requiring artists to show “loyalty” to the state.
    פסל של מירי רגב בכיכר הבימה בתל אביבפסל של מירי רגב בכיכר הבימה בתל אביב
    Itay Zalait's installation depicting then-Minister of Culture Miri Regev looking at a mirror, while wearing a white dress
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Before that, he built a golden statue of Netanyahu to mock what he said was the idolatry of many Israelis toward the longtime leader.

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