Shas MK: Israelis Need Rehab from 'Big Brother' TV Show

MK Nissim Ze'ev disgusted by reality show that administered psychiatric drugs to its participants.

Contact Editor
Gil Ronen,

MK Ze'ev with participants, producers.
MK Ze'ev with participants, producers.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee debated on Monday the use of psychiatric drugs by participants in a television reality show called "Big Brother" – but Shas MK Nissim Ze'ev thinks the show's very existence is the problem.

The debate was convened after a former participant in the show alleged that a psychiatrist hired by the production company prodded participants to use psychiatric drugs, thus altering their behavior for the show. The show, which has high ratings, allows viewers to watch the goings-on between a group of people who have been placed in a large house together.

The allegations have been denied by the production team, which has sued the former participant for libel. It acknowledged that the psychiatrist did dispense drugs but said there was nothing improper about the way this was done.

The allegations have turned into a war between Israeli media groups – with the one that owns the rights to Big Brother defending the show, and the other pumping up the allegations against it. The Knesset debate was largely used for inflating the media "buzz" around the show, with MKs eager to receive some of the attention.

MK Ze'ev said that he doesn't really care one way or another about the drug use. "We need to discuss the essence," he said. "This is a lewd show that destroys our youth, and destroys our morals. Young people watch this show day and night like drug addicts – this is unacceptable. We have reached the lowest level. We must search our souls." Drugs or no, it is the youths who watch the show who need to go on rehab, he said.

MK Ze'ev said that a "deep and essential discussion" about morality needs to be held. "This is a program that contains evil, lust, emptiness and filth. We need to consider what the purpose of such a show is. They tell me it is artistic and that it has won a prize. Shame on that prize and on this art."