Reality Show Contestant Who Supports Palestinian Rights Draws Hatred and Threats

20 January 2010 By New Israel Fund

Edna Kanti, a volunteer with NIF grantee Machsom Watch, is participating in the latest cast of Israel's most popular reality TV show, "Big Brother".  Kanti chose to appear on the program and was selected by the producers to promote her experiences watching the hardships suffered by Palestinians at West Bank Israeli Defense Force checkpoints – an issue rarely discussed on prime time TV.

Machsom Watch volunteer Edna Kanti.

Viewers of "Big Brother", which has a huge 33 percent rating, have not yet voted Kanti off the show.  However, she has drawn extraordinary invective and even threats from some members of the show's audience.  NIF Israel Executive Director Rachel Liel tackled the phenomenon in an op-ed on Y-Net entitled "It's fun to hate Edna on Big Brother."

She wrote, "Tens of thousands have joined a Facebook group calling for her to be replaced by captured soldier Gilad Shalit.  Claims condemning her have become "facts" responded to by listeners on the radio, such as that Kanti called Israeli soldiers Nazis live on TV, even though the spokesman for the program said that it never happened.  Her family has received calls threatening murder and violence.  Online blogs demonize her and call for cruel violence to be meted out to her."

Within hours of being posted, Liel's article had attracted hundreds of responses, most of them hostile.  She has been invited to appear on a TV talk-show this week to discuss the issue.

Read the full op-ed here here.