The Slatest

The Best Photos We Didn’t Use This Week: Bye-Bye to Bibi

A young woman, wearing a rubber mask of Benjamin Netanyahu over her head, dances in a crowd of people.
So long, Netanyahu. Amir Levy/Getty Images

Slate’s homepage editors spend a lot of time looking for editorial photos to put on our site. Those searches sometimes yield unexpected results: random, perplexing, and mesmerizing photos that don’t belong on the homepage, but that are too good not to share. Every week, we’ll share the weirdest photo from the wires.

What search term was used to find this in Getty?
“yair lapid”

What were you hoping to find?
A photo of Yair Lapid, the Knesset’s current opposition leader and head of the Israeli centrist political party Yesh Atid, with Naftali Bennett, the leader of the far-right Yamina party. Lapid and Bennett have joined forces to topple Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister.

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What did you find instead?
A rowdy reveler wearing a mask of Netanyahu’s face. The empty eyeholes make the fake Bibi look like a zombie or a ghost—definitely something from the realm of the (un)dead. The juxtaposition of the older man’s face with the young woman’s body is striking, as the 71-year-old prime minister appears to be partying hard and doing a dance move straight out of the Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” music video.

A young woman pulls a mask of Benjamin Netanyahu's face off her head
Amir Levy/Getty Images
A young woman weras a mask of Benjamin Netanyahu's face, a hat, and a t-shirt with a slogan in Hebrew. She holds the t-shirt up by the shoulders with both hands.
Jack Guez/Getty Images

In one photo, the woman is theatrically peeling the mask off like a Scooby-Doo villain. Also like a Scooby-Doo villain, Netanyahu is accused of numerous crimes. He has been mired in corruption scandals and was indicted in 2019 for fraud, accepting bribes, and breach of trust. As the young Israeli woman sheds Netanyahu’s face, so too the country seems to be on the verge of shedding his leadership.

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What’s the actual backstory here?
These photos were taken at a May 31 demonstration in Tel Aviv in support of ousting Netanyahu for the Bennett-Lapid unity government.

In the past two years, Israel has held four inconclusive national elections, reflecting an increasingly polarized electorate, with Bibi often the focal point of the political maelstrom. During his 12 years in power, Netanyahu has shifted further to the right to stay in office, leaning into anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian attitudes to win elections. At times, his grip on power has been tenuous, but in Israel’s crowded multiparty system, none of his opponents has been able to build enough support to unseat him—until now.

The new coalition draws parties from across the ideological spectrum: religious and secular, right-wing and left-wing, two-staters and pro-settlement annexationists. It will also include the Islamist Arab party Ra’am, ending the decadeslong exclusion of Arab groups from Israel’s governing coalitions.

Since the Bennett-Lapid alliance spans such a wide range of political beliefs, it is unclear exactly what its leadership will look like in practice. So far, all that’s clear is the shared desire to see Netanyahu gone.

Why is this the weird photo of the week?
As my colleague Josh Keating points out, once Bibi is out of power, Israel is in for what might be the “world’s weirdest government.” These photos are a fitting way to usher in the new era.

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