Former Israeli PM figurine is No. 1

Souvenir designer Asaf Harari's figurine series of Israeli leaders includes (from left) Menachem Begin, Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan.
Souvenir designer Asaf Harari's figurine series of Israeli leaders includes (from left) Menachem Begin, Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/PISAHISTORYA

NEW YORK • According to Toys "R" Us, one of the hottest action figurines this holiday season will be the Star Wars Interactech Imperial Stormtrooper, a 30cm plastic fighter that makes punching sounds.

But there is another fighter action figurine - minus the sound effects - that is getting the spotlight this month and its name is Golda Meir.

On Sunday, when actress Tovah Feldshuh reprised her Tony Award-nominated role as Meir in two performances of the play, Golda's Balcony - part of a benefit for Temple Emanu-El in New York - guests took home a mini-replica of Meir that stands just under 8cm tall.

The figurine of the former Israeli prime minister, who died in 1978 aged 80, features her signature sombre dark skirt and jacket, with a matronly string of pearls around her neck, sensible flats on her feet and her grey hair in a bun.

The piece is the work of Asaf Harari, 31, a self-described "souvenir designer" based in Tel Aviv. It is part of a series of cheeky mini- versions of Israeli leaders, including Menachem Begin and David Ben-Gurion, from his design studio, Piece Of History.

Mr Gady Levy, executive director of Temple Emanu-El, said he ordered about 2,000 of the mini- Meirs from Harari's company as part of his promotional plan for All About Golda, the temple's new Meir-themed series that features classes, an exhibition and a sweepstakes, called Go Golda Go, in which contestants post to Instagram photos of their action figurine for the chance of winning a trip to Israel.

Harari recently talked about his action figurine.

When I first heard there was such a thing as a Golda Meir action figurine, I laughed.

Israeli and Jewish people are cynical. We don't like to admire people. We like to find the flaws and negative stuff in each person. We don't like to make people kings. The figurine keeps the character of Golda, but it's also funny.

What made you decide to depict her in these clothes?

When the Israeli people describe Golda Meir - it's like this, with a pearl necklace and one long dress with dark shoes.

What is she made of?

Vinyl. It's like plastic, but soft. It's hand-painted. It's designed and moulded in Israel, but mass-manufactured in China.

Has anyone been offended?

A few times, nasty comments and anti-Semitic comments about making these figurines. A lot of people don't like the idea of Israel itself and don't like the idea I'm making heroes of people who helped create Israel. From Jewish people, I've had comments about her nose because it's too big.

How popular is the Golda Meir figurine compared with your other pieces?

She's No. 1. Everybody loves her.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2016, with the headline 'Former Israeli PM figurine is No. 1'. Print Edition | Subscribe