A contestant on Israel's version of the hit reality show "Survivor" has sparked outrage among the country's Arab population for naming his shoe "Mohammed" while mocking a former contestant.
The incident comes a few days after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a public apology for a skit on another of the shows on Channel 10 television, in which a late night TV host joked that Jesus had been too fat to walk on water and that his mother Mary had not been a virgin.
A website affiliated with Channel 10, Nana10, carried a clip from the flagship show in which contestant Natan Beshevkin can be seen referring to his shoes as "Nasrin" and "Mohammed." Nasrin was the name of an Israeli Arab contestant who was voted off early in the season, and who had clashed repeatedly on the show with Beshevkin.
In earlier episodes, Beshevkin, who lives on the settlement of Nili and served as a Border Police officer, was shown taunting Nasrin in Arabic. In the episode where the Haifa resident was voted off, Beshevkin told the show's "tribal council", that to him, Arabs were "the people who threw rocks at me when I was riding my bike as a kid."
The Nana10 clip has been linked on Israeli Arab websites, and printed in Arab newspapers, drawing harsh responses from Israel's Arab and Islamic community leaders.
Laemaker Sheikh Ibrahim Tzarzur called the clip a "degrading and ugly campaign" against the Prophet Mohammed. He accused Channel 10 of organizing a campaign against Islam and Christianity and of "playing with fire."
MK Hannah Suweid (Hadash), who spoke to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz after the Channel 10 skit on Jesus, issued a harsh rebuke of Survivor, saying the two incidents are linked and show that "racism and incitement against Arabs" are permeating Israeli society.
Nana10 issued a statement Wednesday saying that "when people come to judge what is said on a reality show, they should remember that the genre depicts reality. Therefore, we have no intent to whitewash reality, even if what it shows isn't perfect."
Last week, Olmert issued a public apology to the Vatican after the "Tonight with Lior Shlein" aired a skit denying that Jesus had walked on water, and claiming that Mary had had sex with many men besides her husband. Shlein also apologized, after stating that the clip had been a response to the Vatican's decision to annul the excommunication of a bishop who denied the events of the Holcaust.
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