Big Brother and the Knesset

As in the 'Big Brother' house, there is too much sincerity in the Knesset.

I have recently discovered that I am one of the few people who bother to watch "Big Brother." This, of course, contradicts the ratings and is in complete contrast to last season, when Nobel Prize laureate Ada Yonath watched the show and said she even sent text messages to ensure Shifra Kornfeld would win and Einav Boublil would lose.

Many saw Kornfeld's triumph as an allegory for Israeli society - the triumph of progressiveness, education and good manners over the racism, traditionalism and obstreperousness passed off as sincerity. Many who once watched devoutly are now ignoring the show, because there's no Kornfeld to vote for, and after Ma'ayan Hudeda's expulsion, there's no longer anyone to hate.

Among my friends, I am also one of the few who still watches the news on TV. Almost a year ago everyone did. There was someone to hate and someone to love, there was someone everyone wanted to win the elections. Today most people have difficulty remembering the ministers' names, not to mention the Knesset members.

As in the "Big Brother" house, there is too much sincerity in the Knesset. In both the TV house and the House, much importance is accorded to "genuineness." In both places telling the truth has become a sort of lie, because people use it to advance causes. And also because the public sees what's happening on TV, a medium in which genuineness has no meaning because all those who appear are at most an image.

It used to be said in Geula Cohen's defense that at least she spoke from the heart. This was also said about Tommy Lapid's rude outbursts, as though spontaneity were sufficient to justify racism or fanaticism. Someone else who means what he says, to our great horror, is Avigdor Lieberman. That Uri Ariel cursed Ahmed Tibi in Arabic during a Knesset committee meeting proves Lieberman is not alone. And Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the Shas MKs demonstrate in no uncertain terms that man is racist and homophobic by nature.

The signs of genuineness and sincerity in both houses are swearing, racist statements, shouts and even hints of physical violence. Genuineness is presented as a virtue, so one must be as genuine as possible.

Another way to survive in both houses is with the "honest person" label - one who says nothing, and so doesn't lie, like Goel Pinto or his political counterpart, Tzipi Livni. Both agree with everyone but reveal nothing of themselves, perhaps because there's nothing there. Some of the contestants could serve as Yisrael Beiteinu's pretty MKs. Saar, who is in love with himself, is the show's Benjamin Netanyahu; Futana the wise Arab could appear low down on Labor or Kadima's Knesset list. But there is no one to take the place of politicians Shelly Yachimovich, Yuli Tamir or Zahava Gal-On, as Shifra Kornfeld did so well. The reality show's sleeping beauty, Ayala, is what remains of Meretz. Deaf Erez? He is Ehud Barak, of course. Talks incessantly but hears no one.

"I was genuine," "the main thing is that I was myself," "I stuck to my principles" - these things are said in self-praise by those who were disappointed by the television program and by politicians. And the compliment "they didn't get their hands dirty" is given to quitters of the second kind. This is exactly why it is so hard to identify with them.

We need people of a third kind - more Shifras and fewer Pintos. Although there's no chance of their coming to power, at least we can fantasize about them. We also need Boublils instead of Hudedas, so we can have someone to hate.