Israeli Left Finds a Voice – On Big Brother (Video)

The Israeli left is rarely seen on Prime Time, but that’s changed since 27-year-old Tel Aviv-based artist Saar Szekely arrived on the Israeli version of Big Brother in January.

His presence was expected to be a flop but his unlikely friendship with housemate Eran Tartakovsky –- a former Israeli army officer who said on his audition tape that he hated Arabs — turned affections around and Szekely made it into the final. The show has had its highest ever ratings: 40% of Israeli TVs were tuned in.

In a recent clip, Szekely debated co-stars about the moral position of the Israel army and even Israel itself.

“Israel doesn’t want peace,” he says. “It wants land.”

“Israel is on the brink of catastrophe, and your eyes are closed.”


Szekely was surrounded by reactionaries and viewers set up Facebook pages, calling him a “traitor” and a “terrorist,” and saying that Israel should expel him. His home town of Askelon was officially ashamed of him.

Maariv Daily’s deputy editor, Shai Golden, told the Guardian:

“Until now, reality TV in Israel has been reluctant to put politics in the forefront because it doesn’t make for good entertainment. I think there are two elements to Israelis’ obsession with reality TV: escapism and a substitute for violence. Putting Saar in was a real risk.”

The producer of the Israeli Big Brother, Yoram Zak, said that he had no regrets including Szekely on the show:

“I just really liked his style. When I asked him why he wanted to join the house he said, ‘If you’re going to broadcast this garbage the least I can do is bring some real content to it.’ I liked that.”

Writes Ami Kaufman:

Inside the house, everyone was falling in love with him. Even the right wingers were finding it difficult to have a debate with him. He was just too convincing. And too nice. He rarely got into a fight. He was always the responsible adult. He was funny, caring, and warm and supportive when needed.

Outside, the left was getting all dreamy eyed over this chiselled, articulate young man. “Finally, a good-looking leftist who knows what to say! Where do we vote for this guy?”

· Find out more about the incident in the village of Bil’in which Szekely mentions here.

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Daniel C.
Daniel C.5 years ago

I love the way he makes his point surrounded by people completely opposed. You can see that as he went on, these people were having to reexamine their beliefs-many of which have been held dearly for a long time. Israel desperately needs more people like Saar.

Jane L.
Jane L5 years ago

Wow, that was so interesting to watch. This is definitely something that I would watch - something that is intellectually challenging and talks about real life (as opposed to the 'reality tv' garbage common in north america these days). I completely agree with the shirtless leftist and always assumed that everyone thinks like that. I was very amused by the opposition's perspective, opening my eyes to realize that there are still people who think backwards (at least in my perpective). What a way to change the world, by broadcasting this!

Ronald N.
Ronald Nichols5 years ago


Muriel C.
Muriel C5 years ago

You've got to be kidding! The Israeli Left is very strong and very vocal. It owns -thanks to the funding by foreign NGOs- the 2 biggest Newspapers, has 4 Supreme Court Justices, and would be more powerful if Tsipi Livni hadn't sunk her own chances by refusing to lead a coalition government when she won the last legislative election.
If anything, the freedom of speech of every party -from the extreme left to the extreme right- is more respected in Israel than anywhere else in the world. It is mark of a system in which there are so many political parties that none of them can govern alone.

KS Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

lis Gunn
lis Gunn5 years ago

Congratulations to all concerned in televising this production .. to Szkeley, Yoram Zak and all those who brought it to the small screen. Gutsiness, in telligence and bravery evident all round and at what personal expense for Szkeley.
I have never watched Big Brother and just wish that those who do would read Orwell's 1984 which depicts the original Big Brother - a revisionist government which not only rewrote its history but attempted to make independent thought a crime (Thought Crime). If one committed it, one would have to go to Room 101 where one's greatest FEAR was visited on the criminal. Sound familiar?

Sarah Mumford
S M5 years ago

I wish there were more Saars. I hope the individual Israelis begin to think for themselves and stop being a type of terrorist, thief, and manipulated by power and money from USA for their ends and control of the world. If they do not then they will become more and more disliked by for their actions and arrogance towards their neighbouring countries.

aaron p.
aaron p.5 years ago

israel is a terrorist state and not at all what most people think. it was created and allowed to be created by the rothchilds and rockefelers after world war II, becuz of the future oil reserves and not to be the chosen ones of peace but in order and instead to be able start (in the future) a new war in that region and keep it in an unstable war like atmospheir in order to keep their empirilistic global ware fair agenda in the 20th century and now today the 21st century.

ignorant christians and americans who support do not know this need to know it and WAKE UP!!!

Robert O.
Robert O5 years ago

Interesting. Thanks Paul.

I agree Erika M.

Erika M.
Erika M5 years ago

Great article, I hope more people in Israel wake up and realize that it is they who are the terrorists and not the Palestinians.