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Photo: EPA
Toppled
Photo: EPA

Golden 'King Bibi' statue causes guerrilla-art stir

Sculptor Itay Zalait says he placed statue in Rabin Sq. to test the limits of freedom of expression; Culture Minister Miri Regev condemns the statue; onlookers topple the installation once its deadline for removal passes.

A gilded statue of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dubbed "King Bibi" by its creator, stirred condemnation from Culture Minister Miri Regev and was toppled by an onlooker after a brief public appearance on Tuesday.

 

 

Sculptor Itay Zalait told reporters he had placed the four-meter tall effigy of Netanyahu on a white pedestal in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, adjacent to city hall, to test the limits of freedom of expression in Israel.

 

The Israeli government and artists have been locked in a so-called "culture war" over steps by Culture Minister Miri Regev to withhold state funds from institutions that do not express loyalty to the state.

 

רויטרס

   (Reuters)

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Posting on Facebook after the guerrilla-art sculpture was erected, Regev called it an "expression of hatred towards Netanyahu". Tel Aviv municipal officials ordered Zalait to remove the statue and said they would haul it away and fine him if he refused.

 

'King Bibi' is toppled (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
'King Bibi' is toppled (Photo: AP)

People carry out the statue (Photo: EPA)
People carry out the statue (Photo: EPA)

Morning commuters gathered to snap photos and debate whether the statue should be seen as mockery of Netanyahu or homage to the right-wing prime minister, now in his fourth term and known by his childhood nickname "Bibi."

 

One woman bowed down in jest in front of the figure, which Zalait said took him three months to sculpt.

 

A woman steps on the toppled statue (Photo: EPA)
A woman steps on the toppled statue (Photo: EPA)

City hall in the background (Photo: Reuters)
City hall in the background (Photo: Reuters)

 

"On social media, there have been tens of thousands of comments about 'King Bibi,'" Zalait said on Army Radio when asked what had inspired him to create the statue.

 

"I simply made it a reality and put it in its deserved place, the Kings of Israel Square," he said, referring to the plaza's name before it was changed to honor Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister assassinated by an ultranationalist Jew during a peace rally there in 1995.

 

'King Bibi' (Photo: EPA)
'King Bibi' (Photo: EPA)

(Photo: EPA)
(Photo: EPA)

(Photo: AFP)
(Photo: AFP)

 

Passerby Nina Lobel said the portrayal of Netanyahu was "horrendous" and the artist had wanted "to show him as a dictator".

 

Shortly after city hall's deadline for the statue's removal expired, a man in the crowd pushed "King Bibi" to the ground. It made a soft "clink" as it hit the pavement and the artist, who seemed amused, took it away, still in one piece, on a truck.

 

Netanyahu and his wife Sara have drawn legal scrutiny and frequent headlines over whether state funds have been used to support what critics decry as their lavish lifestyle.

 

Both have denied any misuse of taxpayers' money.

 


פרסום ראשון: 12.06.16, 21:15
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