Neri Livneh Is Addicted to Hate

Reality shows are like Knesset elections: you don't vote for who you like, but against those you hate.

The instant the episode of “Survivor VIP” ended, a few Saturdays ago on Channel 2, I went into Facebook and tried to delete former MK and present-day attorney Inbal Gavrieli − who had been eliminated in that episode − from my list of friends.

The prevailing misconception about Facebook is that we open an account there in order to find friends. In fact, it’s the very opposite. I find friends easily everywhere, and it’s possible that in real life I might even have become friends with Gavrieli. But it’s only on Facebook that I am able to break off relations with friends.

That’s why my greatest oneg Shabbat ‏(Sabbath delight‏) is deleting friends from my Facebook account. It gives me a feeling of control, of having a social life that’s based on much more than fateful timing and shared experiences. A social life grounded in principles − such as not to grant access to: 1. People who are not wowed by me; 2. People who tell unfunny jokes; 3. People who use supposedly funny aliases; 4. People who insert a photo of their child or their pet as their profile image; 5. People with excessively complicated names; and 6. People who send recipes I did not ask for, or who post all kinds of epigrams and thoughts on my homepage, of all places.

I would also be happy to delete Gavrieli, people like her and even worse people, too ‏(and many current MKs are worse than her‏), from the list of this country’s publicly elected officials. But my options there are limited. People like me, who wield no influence, have only virtual options.

“From the dawn of humanity’s emergence, the motto is: If someone is out to kill you, kill him first,” and “It’s not a utopian world like with Justice Cheshin, it’s a dog-eat-dog and shit world.” These are just two of the thoughts that Gavrieli, who was an MK at the age of 27, fired off in bursts during the “Survivor” tribal council session that voted her out.

To avoid legal complications, if not worse, I will say straight away that these metaphors from the sphere of combat are not intended to hint in any way, shape or form at the occupations of said former MK’s family, which have been covered by crime reporters − notably Yedioth Ahronoth’s Buki Naeh, who is also taking part in the program and clashed with Gavrieli on the island.

In all its past seasons, I gave “Survivor” my top rating for reality programs that I don’t watch, mainly because I am totally incapable of identifying with women in bikinis and couldn’t care less about social dynamics that take place between people I have no wish to meet.

Nevertheless, I knew I would want to watch the VIP version. I’d heard of most of the participants. I had even formed some sort of opinion about a few of them. I was somewhat more familiar with three of them.

One of them was with me in a workshop to kick the smoking habit. If I had known back then, when I told him he was as tall as my sons and that I hoped he had at least played basketball for real and not only on the computer, and he replied that he had indeed played for Maccabi Tel Aviv and that his name was Doron Jamchi − if I’d known how he would behave toward Naeh, with whom I worked on the same paper and for whom I have high regard and like very much, I would not have bothered to butter him up with the stickiness of Super Glue.

My impression from watching all the programs that have been broadcast so far is that the casting department did a brilliant job. Naeh, for example, is the total antithesis of Gavrieli, the representative of the law vs. a woman who was once a representative of the legislature. Naeh is also the antithesis of Azam Azam, who was imprisoned in Egypt for eight years on a charge of spying for Israel and was freed in a prisoner exchange deal. Naeh has self-deprecating humor in spades, although one could never say he is an athlete.

Every week I find myself developing atomic-level hatred for one of the participants − ergo, I have to keep watching the series. It’s hatred that keeps me glued to the screen. My addiction is due to the nerve-racking tension I feel before the elimination of the latest object of hatred, together with the quantities of adrenaline that are also released. The last time I experienced a thrill accompanied by a racing pulse such as overwhelmed me was when actress-dancer Anna Aronov and Gavrieli competed in making a campfire with stones and twigs ‏(which I think is a completely useless skill − because in what real world will we ever need this, and in what real world will Aronov not be able to find a man who will be happy to do such work for her?‏), was when the last of the United Nations soldiers left Nahariya.

Reality shows are like Knesset elections: You don’t vote for who you like but against those whom you hate. The greatness of good reality programs is measured in their ability to come up with new objects for collective hatred. Just like life here, don’t you see? What we mainly need is a common enemy, and every sensible person understands that until we find a new substitute enemy, we will not be able to end the conflict with the Palestinians.

Can we replace the Palestinians with Gavrieli? By all indications, no. But in the meantime, we can watch TV and delude ourselves into thinking that her elimination from “Survivor” ‏(temporarily, at least‏) symbolizes a type of victory of justice over brute force and brazenness. Maybe justice will win in the end and the truth will come out and nation shall not lift up sword against nation − provided Gavrieli doesn’t return to take her revenge on us big-time.