Israelis outraged as Big Brother contestant performs Nazi salute

Despite condemnation, producers rule out removing contestant from show

 Natanel Rudnitsky (photo credit: Mika Labuton)
Natanel Rudnitsky
(photo credit: Mika Labuton)

If the Big Brother international reality television series weren't dramatic enough, the Israeli version has just sparked massive outrage – and a vast public discussion.

Contestant Natanel Rudnitzky was seen during the live coverage on Friday raising his arm in a Nazi salute while seeing a fellow contestant, Diane Schwartz, cosmetically removing hair from her mustache area.

"Now do this: Heil Hitler," he told her. Schwartz warned him in response that his actions were in violation of the rules of the house.

Rudnitzky, as it so happens, has already received a fair warning from the Big Brother house over repeated violations of the rules, in particular, due to violent behavior. He had been brought into the private chat room of the house to receive a warning.

Previous incidents on Big Brother

A similar incident took place on Big Brother Portugal in February 2021 during which one of the contestants was seen performing a Nazi salute to the cameras and refusing to stop, despite the requests of his friends. He was immediately dismissed without further warning.

 Assi Azar stands in the house, at the Big Brother reality show, during Season 6 in Neve Ilan studio outside Jerusalem, June 28, 2014 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Assi Azar stands in the house, at the Big Brother reality show, during Season 6 in Neve Ilan studio outside Jerusalem, June 28, 2014 (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The contestants were then brought together for a conversation on the matter during which the perpetrator was condemned in every sense of the word. "There are issues that should not be laughed at," the contestants were told. "The movement made symbolizes millions who were killed."

On Israeli television, however, that is not the case. After Channel 13, the channel on which the show is running, said that the incident is "being taken care of," it was announced that Rudnitzky will not be removed from the show.

Big Brother Israel's reaction

"There is no way to justify this kind of behavior, and it must be condemned entirely, even if it was done humorously," the show's producers said in a statement. Nevertheless, they said that they decided not to remove the contestant and instead to "interrupt the daily routine" and to hold an "in-depth discussion on the issue with the tenants led by Orna Ben Dor - film and television producer, daughter of Holocaust survivors, and director of the film Because of That War, who deals with the subject of the Holocaust extensively in her work."

The incident occurred on the live feed from the show, and the producers said that they will include the incident in the cut-down episode broadcasted on Saturday evening. They said that the decision to not remove him from the show is in an effort to approach the matter differently and bring it forward in a discussion.