Israel's Communications Minister Quits Day After It Was Revealed He Auditioned for Reality TV

'I experienced criticism that culminated in cooperation with Likud's top officials to weaken me and remove me from the party's spheres of influence,' Ayoub Kara writes in resignation latter

Israel's Communications Minister Ayoub Kara during  a government meeting, Jerusalem, Israel, 2018.
Alex Kolomoisky

Israel's Communications Minister Ayoub Kara resigned Monday, after it was revealed that he auditioned for the reality television show "Survivor: VIP" during his tenure as minister.

"Since being appointed as communications minister, a systematic smear campaign was launched against me that stems from prejudice," Kara, who is Druze, wrote in the resignation letter that he submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Sunday, Channel 13 reported that Kara auditioned for the TV show while serving as communications minister and is considering competing in the program. Kara did not announce his intentions nor did he disqualify himself from handling possible conflicts of interest regarding the television market and the show's broadcaster, Reshet.

"I experienced criticism from both inside and outside [the party] that culminated in Likud's top officials working together to weaken me and remove me from the party's spheres of influence," the letter read.

Kara was appointed communications minister in May 2017. He has continued to serve as minister in the interim government although he is no a member of Knesset, having been pushed down to an unrealistic slot on the Likud Knesset slate. He has rarely come to the ministry in recent months.

It was reported that Kara auditioned in May for a role in the reality show and met with the producers. His office said that he is examining the offer but will probably not participate in the show's next season due to the dissolution of the Knesset and his position as communications minister.

Kara’s contacts with Reshet raise a question of a potential conflict of interest. In the VIP version of "Survivor", participants usually receive a salary and broad exposure, and compete for the final prize. That means that Kara received a monetary offer from an entity that he is responsible for and did not report it to anyone.

In his role as communications minister Kara is responsible for implementing the Law for the Second Authority for Television and Radio, which directly supervises Reshet. He also has many powers that directly relate to the broadcasting companies. Kara has not yet made a decision on whether he will participate in the show. In light of his role, he was supposed to report his alleged negotiations and to disqualify himself from dealing with the channel’s affairs.

Reshet release a statement, saying: “We are pleased by the public interest in the new season of ‘Survivor’ on Reshet 13. We are in the casting stage at the moment and will not discuss the identity of the candidates.”

“Minister Kara appreciates Reshet's request to participate in the show and is considering the matter. He will soon provide his answers,” Kara's office said in a statement, refusing to address allegations of conflict of interest.

Kara has previously come under fire for problematic ties with organizations under his supervision. According to Army Radio, Kara intervened in appointments at the Israel Postal Company in favor of associates and family members. The postal company also sent letters for Kara worth 16,940 shekels ($4,700), free of charge.

On order of the state comptroller, Kara was forced to pay the full sum for the mailings. Regarding intervention in appointments the comptroller said that there is no suspicion of criminal behavior, but  the intervention is improper. Kara’s office refused to respond.

In response to Kara's resignation, Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg, called on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to forbid Netanyahu from temporarily holding the communications portfolio until a new communications minister is appointed, in light of the corruption cases the premier is involved in. "The suspect cannot be allowed to return to the scene of the crime," she said.