A giant stuffed doll of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing a crown was placed Sunday morning in a central square in Tel Aviv, two days before Israelis go to the polls to choose their next leader.
The figure was positioned at Habima Square, near Israel’s national theater Habima, at the foot of a famous statue by the late sculptor Menashe Kadishman.
It played a loop of various parts of speeches by Netanyahu, saying “the right-wing rule is in danger” and lashing out against “brainwashing, worthless libels,” and the “leftist media.”
A charity box with a “Thank you” on it was placed next to the effigy, saying it was “to cover expenses” — a likely reference to requests the prime minister has made for funding his legal defense in various corruption cases in which the attorney general has announced bribery and fraud charges against him, pending a hearing.
בכיכר הבימה הוצבה הבוקר בובה בדמותו של רה"מ בנימין נתניהו עם כתר ובתוכה רמקול שמשדר ציטוטים של נתניהו בקולו כמו: "שלטון הימין בסכנה" ו"התקשורת השמאלנית" pic.twitter.com/XOBjPKQ8TA
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 7, 2019
The oversize doll was made by two animation students who live in the southern city of Sderot — which for over a decade has been a favored target for rockets launched by Palestinian terror groups from the Gaza Strip — in protest of what they said was Netanyahu’s failure to give them security.
“We have been studying for four years in Sderot and feel like Bibi is ‘Mr. Security,’ but nothing is happening,” one of the students, Paz Bernstein, said, using the premier’s nickname.
“It’s like a teddy bear that hugs you at night when you’re a small child but doesn’t really help you. [He] scares you and incites, and presents himself as the only thing that will protect us at night,” she said, adding that the crown was in reference to the premier’s frequently being called “King Bibi.”
“This is the physical representation of what Bibi has been doing to us for years,” said the second creator of the exhibit, Yael Solomonovich. “We are stressed out by everything — leftists, Iranians and Arabs — and he has positioned himself as the only thing giving security.”
Bernstein and Solomonovich said their creation was aimed at letting the public “say goodbye” to Netanyahu, despite all recent polls predicting a win for the incumbent leader.
The pair said they had received permission from the Tel Aviv Municipality to place the exhibit at Habima Square until Monday evening, just before the April 9 Knesset elections.
“Like adults, we need to leave our Bibi bear and move on,” Solomonovich said.
In 2016, a golden statue of Netanyahu was erected at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square by artist Itay Zalait, who said at the time that the work was intended “to test the boundaries of free speech in Israel.”
Many saw in the golden Netanyahu statue a reference to the biblical golden calf, worshiped after the Exodus by the Children of Israel while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah. Others saw reminders of dictators such as Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu and Cuban strongman Fidel Castro.
The Netanyahu statue was toppled by a passerby hours after its placement, shortly after municipality inspectors warned the artist that the city would remove it and charge him unless it was taken away.