Only in Israel: Am Yisrael has such an atavistic disgust for avodah zarah that the greatest insult a leftist artist could come up with against Binyamin Netanyahu was a 15-foot golden statue of the prime minister, which was set up overnight in Rabin Square in the center of Tel Aviv. How Itay Zaliat, who has come forward as the artist, managed to set up the statue undetected in an area where there is traffic and activity 24 hours a day is not clear, but in media interviews he was quite clear about his intentions.
“Wherever he goes, Netanyahu is regarded by his supporters as ‘King Bibi,’” Zaliat told Channel Ten. “I decided that setting up an ‘idol’ in Kings of Israel Square (the former name of Rabin Square, which was renamed after his murder in 1995) would be a good idea. We’ll see where we can take this. Lots of popular trends in this country started as a gimmick.”
The structure was the talk of the town Tuesday, with leftist groups praising the artist’s creativity, while right-wing activists dismissed the move as “agit-prop.” Several people were observed dumping trash and other refuse in front of the statue. Media commentators pointed out that the statue was gold-colored, extrapolating from that to a wide variety of intentions by its designer, who may, the commentators said, have had in mind the high cost of living, Netanyahu’s preference for working with large gas producers to extract natural gas from the Leviathan gas field, his lavishing funds on communities in Yehudah and Shomron, and similar issues that the left opposes.
The one definitive comment came from Tel Aviv Municipality officials, who promptly pasted a “cease and desist” notice on the statue, and demanded that it be removed forthwith. Zaliat did not say when or how he would do so.