NGO calls to probe ‘Big Brother’ TV show for anti-Tibi incitement

Group says issue is very serious due to high ratings of popular reality program, current atmosphere in the country due to ongoing "price tag" attacks.

An Arab NGO sent a letter Sunday to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein requesting that he ask the police to open an investigation of the popular reality TV show Big Brother for incitement to violence against MK Ahmed Tibi.
Two participants in the show have recently made violent statements about Arab Knesset members. One of the participants, Ahi Natan, said, “I have a serious problem with [United Arab List-Ta’al MK] Ahmed Tibi.”
Another participant, Elad Gal-Ad responded, “[Balad MK] Haneen Zoabi is not better, if not worse.”
Natan said, “How there is no one in Israel crazy enough to take them down. He [Tibi] speaks like [former Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad.”
“Even the photographer, how he didn’t get up and stab him? It drove me crazy!” Gal-Ad later said, “You are right, in another country they would take them down and not even quietly – they would hang them in the town square.”
Tibi told the Israeli blogger Omri Hayun that he filed a complaint to the Knesset speaker.
Reda Jaber, the executive manager at Aman Center – The Arab Center for a Safe Society, told The Jerusalem Post Monday that he sent a letter on Sunday evening to Weinstein requesting the police probe.
The issue is very serious especially because of the high ratings of the program, said Jaber, adding that with the current atmosphere in the country due to the ongoing “price-tag” attacks, “this could cause people to think that it is legitimate to attack an MK.”
Jaber referred to the recent deadly attack in Brussels, after which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu complained about anti-Israeli incitement as one of the causes of the murder of four people.
“We have the same thing here, and it needs to be dealt with now,” he said.
The Aman Center also sent a letter to Keshet, one of the operators of Israel’s Channel 2 and which is responsible for the Big Brother show, demanding that it pull the two participants from the program.
“If they are not removed from the program, viewers will see this behavior as legitimate,” complained Jaber, saying that the apology issued by them is not enough, as it does not adequately educate the public.
“Incitement and violence is not legitimate expression,” he said.
Asked about Arab incitement, Jaber said he also is against it, but that does not mean what happened here is OK.
Big Brother sent a statement to the Post stating that the conversation that took place on the show on Saturday morning between two of the participants – Elad Gal-Ad and Ahi Natan, included “offensive statements about the Knesset members Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi and the comments of the two were grave and unacceptable for Big Brother.”
The two were called in for a talk in the Big Brother room on the show, giving them a warning, and they both showed regret, said the statement.
“I should not have said such a thing, and I wish I could erase the words. I have no meaning in these words; it was just a conversation….
I am sorry. I really did not mean it,” said Natan. “I just hope he [Tibi] will accept the apology because there is no intention behind these things.”
The statement from the show went on, “Due to what happened, all of the participants of the show were gathered together and lectured about the gravity of such offensive statements....The production is against any racist or violent expressions.”
MK Tibi declined to comment for this report.