Reality Show Contestants Cross Racist Line, Get Reality Check

After being raked over the coals, two members of 'Big Brother' apologize for harsh remarks about Arab MKs Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi.

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A screenshot of Gal-Ed, right, saying that if MK Tibi had said what he had said in a neighboring country, "they would hang him in the center of town." Credit: YouTube

The newest season of Israel's "Big Brother" reality show has spawned a new controversy: a tangle between show participants and Arab Knesset members.

During a conversation broadcast over the weekend, Ahi Natan and Eldad Gal-Ed made extremist remarks about MKs Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi. The two later apologized for their statements, Israeli news portal Walla reported Tuesday.

"I want to ask you a legitimate question, how is it they don't remove them? You saw Ahmad Tibi, speaking like (former Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad," Natan said to Gal-Ed while another participant was eating next to them.

Gal-Ed responded by wondering how everybody in the room pays the Arab MKs' salaries.

Natan then asked why the Jewish MKs didn't stand up and do something to stop Tibi. "Even the photographer, how is it he didn't get up and stab him? It drove me crazy," he said.

"In any other country around us, if they would talk that way against the country, they would have removed them long ago," replied Gal-Ed. Neither would they do it quietly. They would hang him in the center of town."

The conversation caused a storm in the house, according to Walla, which reported that the two were called in for a disciplinary meeting, after which they apologized.

"I shouldn't have said a thing like that, and I wish I could erase my words because I didn't mean anything with them," said Natan, according to Walla. "It was just an argument. I apologize. I am sorry. I really didn't mean anything. I only hope that he accepts this apology because there is no intent behind these words."

MK Tibi, meanwhile, has filed a complaint to the Knesset Master-at-Arms and to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Walla reported.

Keshet, the franchisee that produces the show, commented that it found what the two had said unacceptable, and that the producers oppose any racist comment.